By Max Parrott
Progressive City Council members have renewed their push for legislation aimed at reducing housing speculation by giving nonprofits and community land trusts priority on purchasing housing that come up for sale.
The group of lawmakers, including Council Housing Chair Pierina Sanchez, Comptroller Brad Lander, and City Council Members Lincoln Restler and Gale Brewer, rallied on the steps of City Hall Thursday with New York City Community Land Initiative and other housing groups.
“Today, about 10% of the housing in New York City is owned in various forums of social or public ownership. So let’s set this goal, y’all, let’s double that, okay?” said Lander at the rally.
The legislative slate includes seven bills and resolutions — two of which would create opportunities for nonprofits and land trusts first dibs on land that landlords decide to sell.
Under the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, sponsored by Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera, when a property owner decides to sell their property, they would have to alert the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and a list of qualified non-profit and community land trust entities, which have a commitment to providing certain levels of affordability.
The Public Disposition bill, sponsored by Brooklyn Council Member Restler, would require that the sale of all public land prioritize non-profit developers and CLTs. During the rally, Restler said that under the de Blasio administration, when land was redeveloped, for-profit entities won a vast majority of bids for affordable housing on city land.
“That means that we don’t get the deeply affordable housing that we need. Because when nonprofits got that land, they developed twice as much extremely low income housing,” he said.
Another bill, sponsored by Manhattan’s Brewer, would establish a New York City Land Bank in charge of acquiring under-utilized land and property in order to rehabilitate it and transfer it to Community Land Trusts and non-profit organizations.
The slate of bills also includes several resolutions aimed at passing state bills in the upcoming legislation session. One resolution supports the good cause eviction bill, which would provide tenant protections for renters in apartments that aren’t rent-stabilized. If passed, the resolution would provide a show of support among city legislators, potentially adding some force for the coming housing campaign.
“We’re not taking this anymore. We expect the bill to pass and we want it to pass this year,” said Dorca Reynoso, an advocate with Housing Justice For All.
Another resolution aimed in support of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, a state bill that would give tenants the right to make a first offer whenever an owner of eligible buildings wants to sell.
Though housing groups rallied around this bill during last year’s state legislative session, it lost momentum after the legislature did not include a pot of funding for tenant groups to tap into in order to finance purchasing their building. The Council’s resolution could aid the bill’s salience in the next state budget process.
“Today is a great day for community wealth building. Today is a great day for economic justice,” said Albert Scott, president of the East New York Community Land Trust.