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Safe Homes to Become Law in New York City

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

  • Organization: Make the Road by Walking
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 important legislation.

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

"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:

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