Butler Releases Affordable Housing Policy Plan For District

Henry Butler (3)

Democratic City Council Candidate Henry Butler (41-Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, East Flatbush) this week released a detailed policy paper on how he would tackle affordable housing with a focus on new development, existing NYCHA housing, home ownership and senior living.

The policy plan comes as whoever wins the primary will have to deal with Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s recently released Brownsville Plan, which on paper will see some 2,500 new affordable housing units.

Henry Butler Photo by Kelly Mena

“I created this plan because it addresses the core issues happening in our district, and gives concrete ideas that will ensure that everyone in our community can afford a place to call home. Displacement has become a growing problem in the 41st District, and as a member of the City Council, I will not stand by and let this continue to happen,” said Butler in the plan.

The first part of Butler’s plan calls for any new private development on the 216 city-owned vacant lots has to partner with a nonprofit, a Community Land Trust (CLT) or union workers to ensure a community driven approach.

When it comes to new construction of up to 50 units, those developments must be in partnership with a nonprofit or a Community Land Trust (CLT). Unlike for-profit developers, non-profits are more mission driven, and willing to leave money on the table to help the development succeed and be affordable. Similarly, CLT’s have shown to be effective in providing low-cost housing and are required to be permanently affordable, said Butler.

All developments over 50 units will go towards very-low, low and moderate income levels that doesn’t allow for income segregation, Butler said.

Butler, who grew up in public housing, noted there are 35 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments with over 11,500 units in the district and most if not all of them have a massive backlog of maintenance requests – everything from small issues like a leaky faucet to serious health hazards like mold.

“I will work with the NYCHA presidents to create a program, supported by discretionary funding, that will address the maintenance needs in our public housing,” said Butler.

In regards to homeownership, Butler’s plan calls for supporting the initiative to expand the HPD’s Home First Down Payment Assistance Program, increasing the cap of the loan from $15,000 to $100,000 and increasing the program allocation from $3 million to $8 million. In turn, recipients who buy a 2-4 family home would be obligated to maintain affordable rental units as a condition of their loan.

“As Councilmember, I will urge my governing partners in the Council and the Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development to serve low-income families. I am pledging to invest my discretionary capital budget to ensure low-income families in the 41st have an opportunity to own a piece of our community and the city should join me,” said Butler.

In regard to protecting housing for the growing number of seniors in the district, Butler said he will work to improve community outreach for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE).

“These programs ensure that our seniors, many of whom are living on a fixed income, can afford to stay in their homes. I will make sure that there is reliable flow of information on these programs to our elderly community, and that our senior centers are playing a role in educating those who qualify,” said Butler.

“As it stands today, the seniors and disabled residents of our district have to either apply online by themselves, or travel to Manhattan to enroll in SCRIE or DRIE. I believe it is a discriminatory practice that the city does not provide more adequate registration support for people who need these programs,” he added.

Butler and several other candidates including Alicka Amry-Samuel, Cory Provost and Deidre Olivera are running for the open seat. The primary is Sept. 12.