Press & Statements

New York City Council Passes Right to Counsel Legislation

rtc

New York, NY — On July 20, 2017, the New York City Council passed legislation that will provide legal counsel for low-income tenants who are subject to eviction, ejectment or foreclosure proceedings. The right to counsel legislation is a part of the Progressive Caucus’ ADVANCEMENT policy platform. Championed by Progressive Caucus Member Mark Levine, ensuring the right to counsel will allow more low-income New Yorkers to remain in affordable housing and stabilize communities across New York City. Unlike in criminal court, there is no right to counsel in housing court, leaving tenants without resources to fend for themselves. Today, only about 20% of those facing eviction are represented by an attorney–compared to nearly 100% of landlords. This groundbreaking legislation will level the uneven playing field that has historically been disastrous for tenants. In 2015 alone, nearly 22,000 New York City families were evicted, with thousands more forced from their homes mid-way through eviction proceedings.

Continue reading “New York City Council Passes Right to Counsel Legislation”

Progressive Caucus Statement on Rent Guidelines Board Rent Increases

rgb

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Member of the Progressive Caucus, rallies with tenants at the June 27, 2017 Rent Guidelines Board hearing.

New York, NY – The Rent Guidelines Board voted yesterday in favor of rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments, with 1.25 percent raises for one-year leases, and 2 percent raises for two-year leases. The New York City Council Progressive Caucus is disappointed at this outcome following a successful two-year rent freeze for one-year leases. While this increase may not seem like much, for tenants living on minimum wage salaries or Social Security, this will further squeeze their limited incomes and may ultimately force people out of their homes. Additionally, while we respect the obligations of the board to evaluate rental adjustments for over one million rent-stabilized units that house working-class New Yorkers, we also acknowledge that tens of thousands of these units have been lost and deregulated due to unscrupulous landlords, illegal transient use and tenant harassment. There is a housing crisis in our city that is worsening, and diminishing rent-stabilized units, as well as increasing rent, are only farthing the issue.

We remain optimistic, however, that tenant rights and the importance placed on affordability are being acknowledged, as over the past four years, we have seen the lowest guidelines in history. We will continue to fight for a fairer and more just New York, especially for the most vulnerable.

###

NYC Council Progressive Caucus Urges de Blasio Administration & NYPD to Take Action against Remaining Officers Involved in Ramarley Graham Killing

New York, NY –The New York City Council Progressive Caucus is urging the de Blasio administration to take action against the remaining officers involved in the killing of Ramarley Graham, in a newly released letter sent earlier this week to the mayor and police commissioner.

“We request immediate action from your administration to hold the remaining officers responsible for Ramarley Graham’s killing and its related misconduct accountable in a transparent manner,” the Progressive Caucus letter states. “NYPD trial dates should be scheduled for the two other officers charged (Sergeant Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin), who were charged by the department in the same year (2012) that Graham was killed. We urge you to publicly release the departmental charges that these officers face, along with start dates for their trials, without any further wavering.”

The letter can be accessed here.

The Caucus also expressed disappointment in the handling of the disciplinary process related to Graham’s killing, including the department’s allowing Richard Haste to resign rather than be terminated.

“It is disgraceful that after more than five years since killing Ramarley and subsequently accruing pay raises and overtime, Richard Haste was not immediately suspended when Deputy Commissioner Maldonado’s draft report was provided to the department,” the letter asserts. “The NYPD’s failure to take swift action against Haste allowed him to resign. It was a failure of accountability and must not be repeated for the several other officers involved in Graham’s killing.”

The letter also urged the NYPD to comply with state Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) by releasing information requested by Graham’s family via FOIL. The NYPD’s withholding of information in response to the FOIL has forced the family to file a lawsuit to access information about Graham’s killing.

###

Progressive Caucus Response to Approved FY18 Budget

Every year, the Progressive Caucus works to ensure a fair budget that maintains a commitment to strong core City services while supporting programs that protect the most vulnerable. At a time when the Trump administration threatens the most basic rights and beliefs of many of our residents, an equitable and fair budget that strengthens core City services and protects the most vulnerable is that much more important in order to resist the bigotry and divestment from public assistance occurring at the national level. With these goals in mind, Caucus members identified and advocated for several priority investments earlier this year, many of which were secured today with the approval of the $85.2 billion Fiscal Year 2018 Budget by New York City Council.

Members appreciate the critical partnership and leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Committee Chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, whose negotiations with Mayor de Blasio made these achievements possible. As this is the last budget cycle for both Speaker Mark-Viverito and Chairwoman Ferreras-Copeland in their respective positions, Caucus members would especially like to thank them for their service – the crucial and historic investments made in innovative public services over the last few years would not be possible without them.

The FY18 Budget reflected the following programs and initiatives prioritized by the Progressive Caucus:

Continue reading “Progressive Caucus Response to Approved FY18 Budget”

Progressive Caucus Response to FY18 Budget Handshake

 

FY18 Budget Handshake 6-3-17
Photo Credit: John_McCarten and Jeffrey Reed

Every year, the Progressive Caucus works to ensure a fair budget that maintains a commitment to strong core City services while supporting programs that protect the most vulnerable. With these goals in mind, Caucus members identified and advocated for several priority investments earlier this year, many of which were secured yesterday with the Mayor and City Council’s early agreement on a balanced FY2018 Budget.

Members appreciate the critical partnership and leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Committee Chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, whose negotiations with Mayor de Blasio made these achievements possible. As this is the last budget cycle for both Speaker Mark-Viverito and Chairwoman Ferreras-Copeland in their respective positions, Caucus members would especially like to thank them for their service – the crucial and historic investments made in innovative public services over the last few years would not be possible without them.

Continue reading “Progressive Caucus Response to FY18 Budget Handshake”