In December 2003, Make the Road by Walking published a
report entitled This Side of Poverty that documented a crisis in housing code
enforcement in New York City. The report found that thousands of families
were forced to live in apartments filled with dangerous housing code violations
that, by law, were required to be fixed within 24 hours. Often, it took years
for repairs to get made.
Make the Road by Walking started to organize. We brought together a strong coalition of organizations
from throughout the city, and we began to work with members of the City Council
to draft legislation that would promote real accountability for negligent
landlords who fail to repair housing code violations that the city deems
"immediately hazardous" or "hazardous."
Years of Work Pay Off
Years of direct action in front of dangerous buildings,
media work, courageous public testimony by tenants, and work with elected
officials paid off last week when City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and
Council Member Letitia James stood with us to announce the introduction of the
Safe Housing Act. The bill will create a
new housing code enforcement program that will repair hundreds of dangerous
buildings and thousands of dangerous apartments each year. The legislation mandates quick action by
landlords, and by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development
(HPD) to ensure that all cited violations are promptly repaired.
The Safe Housing Act will also catalyze a new public
investment of over $50 million in housing code enforcement over the next five
years. HPD Commissioner Donovan and
Housing Committee Chair Erick Dilan also announced their support for this
Passage of the Safe Housing Act will mark a major victory of
low-income tenants across New York
"This is a historic overhaul of how we deal with code
enforcement in the city of New York,"
said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "It empowers HPD not just to
fix the leaky pipe but to figure out what caused the pipes to be leaky, and to
replace them all if they have to."
Courageous Tenants and Allies Bring Success
Make the Road by Walking would like to thank the courageous
tenants who led this important struggle.
We would also like to thank the allies without whom this success would
not have been possible – The New York Immigration Coalition, the New York City
AIDS Housing Network, the Housing Here and Now Coalition, the Urban Justice
Center, Council Member
Letitia James, the Neighborhood Opportunities Fund, the New York Community
Trust and many others. Also, we would
like to acknowledge the excellent work of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
and her staff to bring this legislation together and to engage all of the
important players in shaping its content.
This historic legislation received significant press
coverage in the past week. Here are some of the highlights:
AM New York:
Proposed Council Bill Gives Tenants Power
The New York Times: City To Seek Broader Power over
Staten Island Advance:
Crackdown on City’s Slumlords
Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Letitia James to Introduce New Safe Housing Act
El Diario: Malos Caseros Contra la Pared
WNYC Radio: Proposal Would Crack Down on Slumlords
Telemundo 47 TV: Mejorarán Condiciones de Peores Viviendas
HOY: A la Caza de los Peores Edificios
Make the Road by Walking continues its fight for low-income
families throughout New York City.
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