Why I'm Supporting Shirley Patterson For New York Assembly Seat

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Visual Artist Charles Jean-Pierre, far right, Shirley Patterson and supporters unveiled the "Housing Matters" Mural on Sunday

[Local Elections 2015]

I created the "Housing Matters" mural with Shirley Patterson to give a visual voice to the housing crisis in Brooklyn.

With an increasing population and a diminishing affordable housing supply, New York City is facing a huge housing epidemic. A good number of New Yorkers are paying 60 to 70% of their incomes just to keep a roof over their heads. Some residents who have full-time jobs live in homeless shelters.

We must realistically define what affordable housing is in New York City. The U.S. government standard states no one should spend more than 30% of their pretax income on housing.

In the 43rd Assembly District the approximate average salary of $47,000 a year should mean the renter should pay no more than $1,175. Studio apartments in Crown Heights cost $1,687 on average in 2014, up 22.8 percent from $1,374 in 2013. I am supporting Shirley Patterson because she is the only candidate with a plan to reform housing in Brooklyn.

Shirley's 7 Point Affordable Housing Plan:

End all subsidies to luxury apartment buildings. The 80/20 program has not worked to significantly increase New York City’s housing supply.

Re-create a new Mitchell Lama program which was a very successful program instituted by the state that has helped tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

Work with developers to build rental buildings for low and moderate income New Yorkers who make up the majority of our citizenry.

Using up to 10% of the city and state pension plans to build union member housing. This will help us recruit new teachers, firefighters, transit workers and other public employees who are struggling because of the skyrocketing rents.

We need to reduce the time and paperwork to approve new buildings. It takes one third to half the time to build a building then to complete all the paperwork.

We also must strengthen the punishments on landlords who abuse rent regulated tenants by illegally raise rents or physically and mentally abuse tenants with both financial fines and jail time.

Shirley will draft legislation to provide legal services for all tenants, In many housing courts around the city, 90 percent of landlords are represented by attorneys and 90 percent of tenants are not.

Housing is a necessity for our community and we must balance the needs of our current and future residents with rights of landlords to make a fair profit. We must redefine what real affordability is based on the real incomes of our district and not the medium income of the entire city. We should end all subsidies to developers building luxury buildings and put those subsidies into moderate and low income housing.

We need to make it tougher on both landlords and tenants who abuse our system. Shirley will put the people first by focusing on increasing access to affordable housing, requiring developers to provide more affordable units, and protecting renters from being priced out of neighborhoods they helped build. Shirley has the vision to reform housing in Brooklyn.

 

Charles Jean-Pierre is a Visual Artist and Housing Advocate

 

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