“The city and state must stop relying on failed capitalist strategies when developing more housing, which is why I introduced a bill Thursday that would require the city to study the feasibility of creating a municipal social housing development agency.”
Few issues garner more anxiety in New Yorkers than their housing, or lack of it. New Yorkers have crammed their lives into increasingly smaller, more dangerous, and more expensive living conditions. The housing crisis impacts everything from romantic relationships to family planning to our mental health. Since taking office last year, I have met with constituents who are living in their cars rather than a shelter, suffering through extreme housing violations for fear of landlord retaliation, or being illegally evicted.
With safe, affordable housing in short supply for working class New Yorkers, it is perpetually frustrating because there are very few options for these folks. Many say our housing system is failing, but I believe that these are not the effects of a “dysfunctional” housing market, but rather the consequences of a housing market that is working as designed—to maximize profit for real estate owners.
This is why, as rents reach record highs, I’m introducing a City Council resolution today with Council Member Gale Brewer calling on the State legislature to pass and Gov. Hochul to sign Good Cause Eviction. Good Cause, sponsored by State Sen. Julia Salazar and Assembly Member Pamela Hunter, is the single greatest protection we can give renters in New York right now. The bill requires landlords to justify rent hikes greater than 3 percent (or 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index) and gives tenants the power to challenge arbitrary or retaliatory evictions.
It would also guarantee lease renewals to most tenants, which currently is not required by market rate landlords. Moreover, Good Cause would give tenants power to organize and fight for better conditions without fear of retaliatory evictions. This is critical for districts like mine, where the number of housing inspections for violations deemed “immediately hazardous” by HPD has reached nearly 6,000 since Jan. 1 of last year.
Notwithstanding the bill’s exemptions for owner-occupied one- to four-family homes, over 784,000 households in New York City would benefit from Good Cause Eviction, including thousands of households in my district alone. Our city is facing historical housing pressure: unprecedented rental prices; record homelessness; dubious practices that limit housing availability; and a wave of evictions in our city’s housing courts. These issues encourage predatory owners to evict low-income tenants and bring in higher paying renters. Put simply, we cannot afford to go another year without passing Good Cause.
While Good Cause would be an unprecedented win for New York’s renters, we also need better housing models to meet our supply needs. Market-based tax incentives such as 421-a have not produced the affordable housing that was promised. The city and state must stop relying on failed capitalist strategies when developing more housing, which is why I introduced a bill Thursday that would require the city to study the feasibility of creating a municipal social housing development agency.
READ MORE: Rise of the ‘SHIMBY’? New Report Outlines Steps to Social Housing
Social housing—or housing that is democratically controlled, permanently affordable, and insulated from the speculative market—is a new concept to some, but it has contributed to some of the most beautiful and affordable housing in our city and around the world. In short, social housing guarantees housing as a home, not something to be bought and sold for profit. My bill would help us better understand how a social housing development agency could operate, how we can finance and develop more social housing, streamline housing disposition pipelines, and improve enforcement mechanisms. We can and should grow our government’s capacity to acquire, manage, and develop social housing to provide for those—primarily people of color and low-income households—who are currently excluded from the housing market.
Social housing is a buzzword for good reason, with citywide coalitions winning unprecedented funding to expand their social housing models despite a decades-long strategy to underfund and discredit social housing as a viable, scalable alternative to the status quo. We cannot wait any longer to pass these tenant protections or to invest in social housing. City officials say that we need to use “every tool in the toolbox” to fight the housing crisis head-on and I agree: let’s arm ourselves with the best tools for the job.
Sandy Nurse is the Council Member for District 37, representing the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Cypress Hills, Bushwick, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, East New York. She is the founder of BK ROT, a co-founder of the Mayday Space, a direct action organizer, and a carpenter.
10 thoughts on “Opinion: NYC’s Housing Emergency Demands Good Cause Eviction, More Social Housing”
Good Cause Eviction is an unconstitutional taking of private property because it forces a legitimate property owner to endlessly renew a lease on their private property against their will. Good Cause Eviction is deed theft by the government. If property owners can’t terminate a lease and be forced to rent their property against their will, who owns the property?
This is ridiculous. These people are choosing to be landlords. They can sell the unit if they don’t want to deal with tenants. I would love to own the apartment I live in in this city and yet I cant afford it because I’m busy paying someone else mortgage and lining their pockets. It stops being “private property” when they lease it out.
‘Social Housing’ is really about creating the local communists dream of a NYCHA 2.0, filled with more of the dregs of NYC at taxpayer expense.
Yes, its just terrible that our taxes go to help the less fortunate or those in need. Just terrible.
MEMO TO COUNCILMEMBER SANDY NURSE:
We already have ‘social housing’. It’s called NYCHA. The New York City Housing Authority is the ONLY affordable housing left in NYC. For those electeds who really want affordable housing—NYCHA is the only affordable housing left in NYC. Thus it stands to reason NYC ought built MORE NYCHA. We have local, state and federal electeds who have been marching into NYCHA environs and taking NYCHA Playgrounds and Parking lots and handing them over to their developer friends. These same electeds will not take Yankee Stadium’s 9,000 parking spaces for housing—go figure!
NYCHA is an endless drain on NYC taxpayer’s money. NYCHA can’t be fixed, ever.
NYCHA is supposed to turn a profit? Or, we use tax money to help those in need. This comment doesn’t pass the vibe check.
Good Cause will kill large-scale rental development, worsen conditions in formerly market-rate buildings, and incentivize low-density development by driving up rents in the 1-4 family segment. I wouldn’t be surprised to see landlords get really creative about what constitutes an “owner-occupied” building — it’s easy to obscure ownership behind LLCs and family trusts. It’s hard enough to figure out where public figures running for office actually live.
oh please. The only thing it will kill is these landlords being able to afford taking more property off market and using it to line their pockets with the money of hard working people. Dont like it, dont be a landlord. Allow the rest of us a chance to own our own homes!
And I haven’t seen improvements to my unit or building after they raised my rent last year $800/ month BEACUSE THEY COULD. That is literally what they told me. “Well, we can so we are”. I did see a bunch of people who had lived there for years displaced because of the landlords greed last year during the insane rent hikes. Including a woman who was trying to live near her fathers elderly care facility but had to move away. She had live in the building for 10 years.