The United Nations has sent an official, Raquel Rolnik, to spend three days touring New York City. Rolnik will be investigating whether the city's affordable housing stock is so sparse that human rights are being violated. In honor of Rolnik's visit, we rounded up today's affordable housing news:
1) An audience member at a Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition rally asked Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada whether he would support repealing vacancy decontrol. Espada's response? "The question is answered by saying yes." Pressed for a more direct answer, Espada said, "Very very clearly. The answer is yes." But, Espada continued, it doesn't really matter, because vacancy decontrol wouldn't affect the affordability of many units in the district. Next question?
2) In a quiet e-mail blast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has revised the affordable housing plan he first proposed four years ago, which called for the city to build or preserve 165,000 units -- 92,000 new, 73,000 preserved -- of affordable housing by 2013. Now the plan will take until 2014 and will focus on preservation rather than construction. Hopefully the city will figure out how to build the non-vanishing kind of affordable housing this time around.
3) And where is the UN's Raquel Rolnik on her voyage of affordable housing discovery? The Village Voice describes her visit to the Bronx, where she heard a presentation on the private equity firms that have driven nearly 3,000 apartments into or close to foreclosure. Violations at these buildings have skyrocketed, tenants told Rolnik. She congratulated the tenants on organizing and said she would file reports with the city, the federal government, and the U.N. But there's still the big question: are human rights being violated? We guess we'll have to wait for the reports to find out.
· Espada Promises the Repeal of Vacancy Decontrol and More [NYO]
· Bloomberg Casually Tweaks Affordable-Housing Ambitions; Thompson Offers Little Pushback [NYO]
· U.N. Rapporteur for Housing Visits Tenants Facing Foreclosure in The Bronx [Village Voice]