Met Council Action held a Zoom discussion with “pro-tenant” New York City Council candidates Monday night.

Some of the candidates in attendance included Johanna Garcia, who’s running for city council in district 10 (which covers Inwood and Washington Heights), Kenya Handy-Hillard who’s running for city council in district 40 (Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood) and Kristin Richardson Jordan who’s running for city council in district 9 (Central Harlem and Morningside Heights.  

With their Housing for All campaign, members of the Met Council are pushing back against re-zonings, lack of tenants’ rights and treatment by landlords. With over half of the current council leaving due to term limits, the Met Council feels that now is the time to push their agenda forward and put the power in the hands of those who rent. They’re targeting elected officials with real estate ties in hopes of changing their ways or plan on voting in new candidates who take their positions on the issue.

Several candidates discussed how they would contribute to the accessibility, affordability and good quality of like in all housing.

“One of the first things I think that we need to do is to make sure that every single rent stabilized, or controlled building is equipped with a well-supported tenants association,” said Garcia. “One of the reasons why people end up evicted or in court, besides lackluster criminal landlords, is because they don’t know their tenants’ rights and they don’t have the support. It’s on the city council and the mayor to provide assistance.

“Just like every school has a parents association and organizes that’s what we need in every single building in New York City.”

“In terms of accessibly, we need to make sure that that not only are we building but we’re preserving housing for our most vulnerable including seniors, our disabled, our LGBTQ community, immigrants, etc.,” added Handy-Hilliard.

When asked if they supported the move to legalize basement apartments, all candidates raised their hand. When asked if they support hotels and other spaces for affordable houses (due to more available commercial space than housing space), each candidate raised their hands.

The Met Council also recently announced several more endorsements for city council. Some of those that were given their blessing by the council include Gale Brewer for City Council District 6 in Manhattan (Upper West Side), Adolfo Abreu for City Council District 14 in the Bronx (Kingsbridge, University Heights, Fordham), Michael Hollingsworth for City Council District 35 in Brooklyn (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights).

Ava Farkas, executive director of Met Council Action, said that the real estate industry’s stranglehold on the five boroughs must end.

“For too long, many members of our city council have served real estate interests, approving disastrous rezonings while barely enforcing tenant protections,” stated Farkas. “With these endorsements, we are joining our allies in the housing justice movement to show our fellow tenants which candidates will fight for them, instead of their landlords. With over half of the current council term-limited, this election has the potential to shift the city’s housing priorities away from profits and toward dignified housing for all New Yorkers.”