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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Victory! “Full Court Press” Against Slumlords Promised

This bill
is a full-out, governmental full-court press against slumlords in the city of New York," said
Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker. She was referring to the
Council’s unanimous passage of the Safe
Housing Act
, legislation spearheaded by Make the Road New York
and other tenant advocacy groups.

years of direct action in front of dangerous buildings, media work, courageous
public testimony by tenants, and collaboration with elected officials, Make the
Road New York members and allies can now celebrate passage of this
groundbreaking legislation, which will create a new housing code enforcement
program that will repair 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 fixed.   

The Safe Housing Act will also catalyze a
new public investment of over $50 million in housing code enforcement over the
next five years. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill into law in the
coming weeks.

The Safe Housing Act, formerly know as the
Healthy Homes Act, was born 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 New York 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."

of the
Safe Housing Act will mark a major victory of low-income tenants across New York City.
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." 

Tenants and Allies Bring Success

Make the
Road New York 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.