PEEKSKILL – The Progress 4 Peekskill Democrats for Mayor and Council gathered with residents, advocates and supporters to bring attention to Peekskill’s housing affordability crisis and discuss steps they will take in response if elected to office.
The event took place at a vacant lot on Central Avenue that the city is in agreement to sell to a developer for a project primarily featuring high-end rental apartments. The candidates and residents spoke about the lack of affordable housing available to residents and the rising rents they face due to the city’s growing popularity and the increase in market rate units. In addition, they called on the city to back a mixed-income housing plan for the Central Avenue site, which would make the majority of the apartments available to working and middle class renters.
The slate also discussed specific aspects of their housing plan that would help protect tenants, increase the amount of affordable units in new private developments, and create new affordable housing on underutilized city properties. The Progress 4 Peekskill housing platform includes measures such as:
* Adopt legislation to require that at least 20 percent of units in new private development are designated workforce and affordable, targeted for working and middle class residents.
* Require that affordable components of residential development projects be based on a lower portion of the area median income that encompasses the actual income of Peekskill residents. This will require developers to price their “affordable” units at rates that Peekskill residents can afford, rather than using rates that reflect the much higher average Westchester County income.
* Require developers to contribute to a fund to help pay for the creation of new affordable housing on city land and to maintain affordability and maintenance in existing housing.
* Take the required steps to expand the state Emergency Tenant Protection Act to include Peekskill, which would provide rent-control for tenants in buildings built before 1974 with six or more units.
* Adopt the state Good Cause Eviction Law in Peekskill to ensure that every tenant is entitled to a lease renewal and protected against unreasonable rent hikes unless the landlord provides a good cause for eviction.
* Partner with nonprofit organizations to create new housing on underutilized city properties that is affordable to working and middle class Peekskill residents. This would include mixed-use development downtown to expand the tax base.
“Make no mistake: Peekskill is facing a housing crisis. Demand is skyrocketing, and supply is not keeping pace, which means rising rents and house prices, speculation, and ultimately displacement. Unfortunately, there is a narrative from our opponents that there is enough affordable housing in Peekskill and we need high end, luxury apartments to build a successful city. This is simply not true. We cannot ignore this crisis and must take aggressive, bold steps now to ensure that residents are not forced out of their neighborhoods. If elected, our slate will make housing justice a priority,” said mayoral candidate Conor Greene.
“It’s no news to any of us that we are facing a housing crisis. This is true for the entire Hudson Valley, but especially true for the city of Peekskill. Housing should be viewed, not as a commodity used to manipulate the tax base, but as a right every person should have access to. We need to find solutions for the hardships our residents are facing, not just ignore them or try to circumvent them by pushing those residents out and bringing wealthier folks in. We need city leadership that will truly take this housing crisis seriously and is committed to not leaving any Peekskill resident behind,” said Councilperson Vanessa Agudelo.
“Everyone deserves a clean, safe, and affordable place to live, and the time has come to make that a reality in Peekskill. Demanding that 20 percent of new units are made affordable will not drive away development. Our city’s historic architecture, scenic riverfront and mountains, and walkable downtown make it extremely attractive, and developers need to start making meaningful and impactful investments in our community in order to build here,” said City Council candidate Amy Perlow.
“This issue isn’t political, although it is often portrayed that way. This is a human rights issue.
For the current administration to put profit and opportunity over the needs of their residents is shameful, especially in a predominantly black and brown community. Institutional racism has shown us that discriminatory policies leave a devastating impact for current and future generations. How can we even begin to expect people to lift themselves up without providing a path and opportunities toward economic equality?” said City Council candidate Amy Vele.
Three residents, Kalissa Sawyer Delgado, Steven Dillard, and Tekena Lotts, also spoke in support of Peekskill’s need for housing that’s actually affordable.
“For 12 years I lived here without any problems. My landlord was a good landlord, and he never gave me any trouble about my Section 8 vouchers. But in 2018, he sold his properties to a new landlord, who wanted to raise my rent from $1,800 to $2,600. I’ve been trying to make sure my family has a roof over their head. The instability I’m experiencing is hurting my kids, too. I’m sharing my story because I need help, and I know I’m not the only one,” said Lotts.
The candidates are now calling on residents to contact the City Council and demand that they accept the mixed income housing plan the developer offered for Central Avenue, instead of the 90 percent market rate proposal the city is currently considering.