Housing politics in New York are broken. Our city is unaffordable and segregated, and we are not building nearly enough housing, especially in white, wealthy neighborhoods. Fortunately, a new group of candidates for City Council is presenting a new vision for equitable, sustainable housing growth.
These candidates bring a diverse array of experiences and ideologies, and despite coming from very different New York City neighborhoods, they agree on some key things: New York needs a new citywide approach to housing development, including more housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods, an end to “member deference” in the Council, and commonsense reforms like legalizing and encouraging the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
After a rigorous internal endorsement process, Open New York — New York’s only all-volunteer pro-housing activist group — is proud to announce our endorsement of eight candidates for City Council in 2021: Sara Lind, Shaun Abreu, Jessica Haller, Marjorie Velázquez, Pierina Sanchez, John Sanchez, Althea Stevens, and Juan Ardila.
Sara Lind, District 6
Sara is running to represent an affluent, majority-white district on the Upper West Side, and knows that districts like hers need to do their part to produce housing in New York City — and has proposed a plan to do just that. Sara has become a powerful defender of unsheltered New Yorkers, using her voice as a community leader to defend against the racist, classist, and NIMBYist attacks cast against shelter residents at the Lucerne Hotel and across the city.
Shaun Abreu, District 7
A tenant attorney at the New York Legal Assistance Group, Shaun has seen the effects of our broken housing market firsthand in both his own life and his career. As someone who moved between Washington Heights and the Upper West Side growing up, Shaun knows that our neighborhoods cannot be treated as silos, and that exclusionary zoning in high-opportunity neighborhoods harms us all.
Jessica Haller, District 11
Jessica has committed her campaign in the Northwest Bronx to building a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable city, and knows that housing policy is at the center of that vision. By advocating for new, resilient housing alongside responsible preservation and welcoming newcomers to New York City, Jessica will be a housing and climate champion on the Council.
Marjorie Velázquez, District 13
A lifelong Bronxite with a background in accounting and public service, Marjorie nearly won the race to represent District 13 in 2017 despite being outspent by her opponent by over $1 million. Since then, the incumbent’s primary interest in affordable housing has been as a vehicle to favor campaign donors. District 13 deserves better, and Marjorie has the integrity and creativity to bring housing affordability to this complex, transit-starved district. She is committed to removing outdated regulations on home types like ADUs.
Pierina Sanchez, District 14
Pierina isn’t just a lifelong Bronxite who’s seen the results of New York’s broken housing status quo first hand — she’s also a policy expert who’s worked at the Regional Plan Association and in City government and has written about the need for a comprehensive citywide approach to housing policy. We need people like Pierina with direct policymaking experience on the City Council to help shape a legislative response to our housing crisis.
John Sanchez, District 15
John has consistently fought for housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods in his time as Community Board 6 District Manager in the Bronx, including penning an op-ed in support of the SoHo/NoHo rezoning long before other politicians supported it, and coordinating votes on his Community Board in favor of ending apartment bans and enabling and expanding ADUs and basement apartments in New York City.
Althea Stevens, District 16
Althea’s background in youth development in the council district with the highest rates of youth homelessness in the city has emphasized the need for more options for permanent housing in New York, not just in her district or borough, but across the city. She has deep experience as an organizer and advocate, working with NYCHA leaders to connect residents with opportunities in their communities and beyond.
Juan Ardila, District 30
Juan has been a leading voice on legalizing and enabling accessory dwelling units in New York, putting the issue at the center of his housing platform alongside a science-informed Housing First approach to homelessness. In a district where the incumbent has incited vile, racist NIMBYism against unsheltered New Yorkers, Juan’s leadership would not only be a welcome change, but would also play a critical role in advancing a smarter approach to ensuring all New Yorkers have a safe, comfortable place to live.