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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Visits Local Businesses to Promote New Tenant Services and Affordable Housing Reforms

February 27, 2016

Mayor Bill de Blasio: First of all, thank you, everyone for being here. I want to do a special thank you to AARP – you are amazing. Let’s clap for them and all the great work they do.

[Applause]

I want to thank everyone for being out here. Now, it may be cold out, but our hearts are warm because we are going to do something good today to help our fellow New Yorkers. We’re going to go around and tell people about their rights as tenants, the protections that are there for them, the fact that if they are being harassed by a landlord, or if they’re being illegally evicted, the City will give them a lawyer for free – it’s as simple as that. Now, that has not been there in the past, but it’s here now.

[Applause]

And we have to make sure people know about it, because if someone might be evicted illegally, we’ve got to get there first. So, I want you to feel that passion. By getting this information in the hands of people throughout the community, you literally could help someone save their home. You could help a family stay in their home and avoid eviction. You know some – let me take this here – thank you, John. This leaflet right here has the information that people need about the fact that if they are in danger of eviction, or, if they are being harassed illegally, they can get a lawyer for free. All they have to do is call 3-1-1 – it’s as simple as dialing 3-1-1, and help is on the way. 

Now, remember, some of the families that have been illegally evicted end up homeless. So, imagine that – a family that had a right to an apartment illegally thrown out, and ending up in a homeless shelter. We have a chance to stop that today, person to person. And to spread the word, we’re going to go into stores, we’re going to talk to people on the street, and we need to spread the word about people’s rights. 

Second, we have a big decision coming up in the City Council – and the City Council is full of big thinkers and are looking to the future. What this city needs in the future is more affordable housing – more affordable housing. 

[Applause]

And by the way, [inaudible] senior citizens, and we especially need senior affordable housing. 

[Applause]

So, today, we’re talking about two pieces of legislation that we need people to support. Mandatory inclusionary zoning – that means that developers are required to create affordable housing. Any place this policy applies in New York City – they are required to create affordable housing, or they can’t build at all – it’s as simple as that. And the second one, called ZQA – Zoning for Quality and Affordability – and what that’s going to allow us to do is create a lot more senior housing because it says we’re going to put senior housing in places we weren’t allowed to before. But where we need it, we’re going to be able to create more senior housing throughout the City, because the laws will work with us instead of against us when we’re trying to create housing for our seniors – that is coming before the City Council. I know Councilman Cornegy is looking at this very seriously, and we certainly need your support, but we need the support of people all over this city to change our laws so that we create affordable housing. 

I’ll say one last thing, and then turn to the councilman. Wherever I go in the city – I’ve been saying this for years – it happens every single time – wherever I go in the city, the number one issue on people’s minds is affordable housing. The number-one thing people say to me is, how am I going to stay in my own neighborhood? How am I going to afford being priced out of the neighborhood I love? How am I going to even stay in my own city – the city I’ve been a part of my whole life, in so many cases – or generations? So, we have to answer that concern by protecting people against illegal eviction, by creating more affordable housing, by preserving the affordable housing we have – and that’s what we’re doing today. And, with your help, we’re going to get this done. This vote is coming up soon – just in a matter of weeks. We need a strong push to win these votes and protect the people of this city.

So, I want you to give yourselves a round of applause for being out here and helping people today. Thank you, very, very much.

[Applause]

Councilman Robert Cornegy –

[Councilmember Robert Cornegy delivers remarks]

Mayor: Thank you, Robert. This is a man – I always say, this is a man I look up to.

[Laughter] 

I thank you. Now, finally, I want to say one thing – today, we are going out around the community, but this work is something we need to do every day. So, I want to deputize everyone here – you’re now my deputy, because we need to spread this word every day. If you know of anyone at work, where you live, a neighbor, a family member, a friend, someone you go to church with – anyone who says, I’m being forced out of my apartment; anyone who says, my landlord’s harassing me, they’re turning off the heat, they’re turning off the hot water, they won’t make repairs – tell them, please – tell them to call 3-1-1. Tell them to get the help they deserve. This is going to be people to people. This is how we make change – people to people. We have a tool now to actually protect people against illegal harassment and illegal eviction, but every one of you can spread that word. You might find the person who is on the brink, and you might save their family by letting them know they can get a free lawyer. So, please, make that something you do every day to help the people of this neighborhood and this city. 

Thank you, and God bless everyone. Thank you.

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