Ritchie Torres’s Solution to Bad Landlords & Homelessness : 3 Strikes and You’re Out

Ritchie Torres wants to be known as the councilman who took on homelessness in New York – by providing them an affordable rooftop – in proportion to their income!

As Chairman of the City Council Public Housing Committee, Ritchie believes that a good rooftop is the first- but not the only way- out of poverty and homelessness. “We need Job Creation & Affordable housing working together”, says Torres. He believes Mayor De Blasio’s housing plan of 80,000 more affordable housing units in New York City is great, but that a bigger problem arises.

“The laws of Demand and Supply will dictate the way affordable housing goes and right now the main engine is demand.” He affirms that housing monies are “federal” and the units are created by “the State” so people should lobby their Congressman if they support more housing funding. As Torres states,”As a matter of fact, in the last 15 years, we have had a federal, state & city disinvestment.”

He believes his “3 strikes ” landlord bill will go a long way to help with preserving housing. “When the bill becomes law soon, it will charge a landlord,  a notice of violation- which now- as opposed to before- he has a time frame to fix that violation- or they get a strike. The new law will allow a judge to order landlords to fix underlying problems, not just address the symptoms.”

The bill will charge landlords who violate the housing code repeatedly for the inspection fees. If tenants complain two or more times within a twelve-month period, and there are inspections due to that, landlords will be billed $200 for each subsequent inspection. The fine rate can escalate depending on the magnitude of the violations. Landlords would not have to pay in the event that the inspection doesn’t turn up any violations.

“By enacting a three strikes fee for landlords who fail to cure hazardous and immediately hazardous housing conditions, the City Council hopes landlords will stop violating the housing code,” said Torres

Many local political activists are very happy to see and hear the councilman is keeping his campaign promises and being so hard on landlords.

Jobs for New York PAC, which is spearheaded by the Real Estate Board of New York (one of the most powerful landlord lobbies in the city) dumped millions into his 15th District Race. Many thought they were all-in with Ritchie Torres. It’s important to note that candidates have no control over this spending, thanks to the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision. Candidates cannot coordinate with Political Action Committees, and cannot stop or otherwise restrict their activity.

Torres, who says he is progressive about housing issues and tenant rights, and is backed by the pro-tenant Working Families Party, says the money won’t make him beholden to the real estate lobby .

In Full Disclosure as a founder and operator of the Northwest Bronx Democrats, we backed Ms Cynthia Thompkins, The 46th Pct. NYPD Community Council President in the 2013 City Council Race. We do not believe we were wrong, but we are happily surprised with our new Councilman, new to the Northwest Bronx , and many thought, also beholden to the East Side led Jimmy Vacca group.

Yes, there will be times that he will have to pay “politics”! But it is great to see this legislative freshman has taken one of our biggest problems, Housing, and put it on the front table!

Anthony Rivieccio is a 5 decade Bronx resident & 3 decade Bronx Small Business Owner. He was the President of: Bronxites for Parks, The 204th St/Bainbridge Ave Merchants Association & The Committee of 100 Democrats. He is a current member of The Bedford Mosholu Community Association, Friends of Mosholu Parkland, Friends of Williamsbridge Oval, a former member of Community Board 7 and founder of Northwest Bronx Democrats