Political Odds & Ends, Dec. 28, 2021


AM Rosenthal, Kavanagh Announce Bill Reforming Mitchell-Lama Housing Becomes Law

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal
State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh (source: nysenate.gov)
State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn) announced that their bill to reform Mitchell-Lama affordable housing cooperatives (A.7272/S.6412) has been signed into law. 

The Mitchell-Lama program was created by the state Limited Profit Housing Act in 1955 to provide affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income families. More than 100,000 New Yorkers live in Mitchell-Lama housing, which is overseen by both the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

Mitchell-Lama cooperatives are run by a board of directors, the representatives of which are elected by the shareholders, or residents, of the building. Shareholders are entitled to vote to elect the board and before certain other major decisions are made concerning the building.

Until now, state law did not require Mitchell-Lama boards to meet a minimum number of times a year. As a result, major decisions were often made in secrecy, without the involvement of the shareholders or residents. To enhance transparency, the legislation requires the board to hold at least four public meetings each year. To ensure that voting is fair and representative, the legislation eliminates voting by proxy, a system that is ripe for abuse, and instead implements an absentee ballot system, which will preserve the secrecy and sanctity of votes. Absentee voting will ensure that factions on the board are not empowered to harvest proxy votes to sway decisions in their favor.

“New York is experiencing the worst housing and homelessness crisis in its history, and this new law will help preserve the affordability of Mitchell-Lama housing for generations to come. Mitchell-Lama housing, which is publicly subsidized, was designed to provide safe, stable and permanently affordable housing to middle- and moderate-income New Yorkers and their families. Without this reform, which was shaped by Mitchell-Lama shareholders from across the City and State, we would continue to bleed desperately needed units of affordable Mitchell-Lama housing to the private market,” said Rosenthal.

“Residents and shareholders will now have the opportunity to provide meaningful input into how their buildings are governed and to decide the co-op’s financial future in a more equitable and transparent manner,” she added.

Kavanagh, Chair of the Senate Housing Committee, said the new law should improve governance practices and ensure that co-ops are not privatized or converted without very broad resident support and a transparent, inclusive process. 

Bichotte Hermelyn, Sanders Send Kwanzaa Greetings

Rodneyse Bichotte
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn
State Senator James Sanders Jr. 

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn (D-Brooklyn) and State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens) both extended a hearty Happy Kwanzaa to all who celebrate the holiday.

Kwanzaa, which began Monday and continues through January 1, is a celebration of African-American culture. The holiday was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies, looking for ways to unite the community. Kwanzaa is based on several harvest celebrations.

Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different core principle or “Nguzo Saba”, such as Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination) and Ujima (collective work and responsibility). Celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. A child typically lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder). An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on the last night before the new year.

“I would like to extend my warmest thoughts and wishes to those observing the holiday of Kwanzaa, a celebration of family, community and culture,” said Bichotte Hermelyn. “As you light the Kinara in the spirit of Umoja, or unity, may you be blessed with good health and happiness that continues throughout the holiday and into the new year.”

Persaud Sees Two of Her Pieces of Legislation Signed into Law

Roxanne J. Persaud
State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Brooklyn) last week saw Gov. Kathy Hochul sign two pieces of legislation, in which she was the prime sponsor into law.

The first measure gives an option for foster children who age out of the system to re-enter foster care until age 21. The option comes at the request of the Office of Court Administration, who will extend the option to certain youth having aged out of foster care, to return to care until their 21st birthday.  This law will take full effect in March 2022. 

The second measure amends the Penal Law to deem impersonating (or using without authorization) another person’s electronic signature as criminal impersonation in the second degree,  a class A misdemeanor.   

Malliotakis Urges Biden to Ramp Up Production of COVID-19 Treatments

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. 

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) last week sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to turn its focus to increasing the supply and distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments and therapeutic medicines to treat COVID-19 infections. 

In New York City, hospitals are reporting shortages of the monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab, which is hindering their ability to adequately treat their patients.

“As you addressed the nation yesterday regarding the rise in COVID-19 infections attributed to the Omicron variant, you committed to upping the supply and availability of testing kits to the general public,” Malliotakis wrote. “While testing remains important, I was disappointed that your announcement did not also include a commitment from your administration to focus efforts on increasing the supply of monoclonal antibody treatments and therapeutic medicines to treat COVID-19 infections.”

Malliotakis added: “We are now two years and multiple variants into this pandemic. It is clear that COVID 19 is going to remain among us in one form or another, and the government mandates and restrictions have not been effective only increasing vaccine hesitancy and distrust of government. I urge you to turn the attention of your administration toward expanding our arsenal of therapeutic treatments that could both save lives and get us back to normalcy.”