Op-Ed | On housing, Yi Andy Chen is all for luxury developments, not for protecting our middle class

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Ron Kim 2024

Recently, Yi Andy Chen’s campaign published an op-ed attacking my track record of protecting and improving housing for the communities of Assembly District 40 I represent, while claiming that his policies would create “affordable housing for every resident.”

Sounds good in theory, but in reality, Yi Chen’s proposals would wreak havoc on our middle-class homeowners, while making housing more expensive for the vulnerable, and pricing out everyone, except for the ultra-wealthy.

Yi Chen has no real-world experience in creating housing legislation, nor any real results to show, which is glaringly apparent in his proposals, which are unrealistic and solely have real estate developers’ interests in mind.

Yi Chen doesn’t understand you can’t support real estate developers without the community’s involvement and stakeholders’ approval, and that’s why his proposals would never get passed in Albany.  

Putting Politics Over People

By undercutting the need to protect tenants and single-family homeowners and catering exclusively to the interests of private actors to supply housing, it’s clear Yi Chen is putting politics over people, at the cost of outpricing our middle-class residents.

Yi Chen ironically claims I’m “all talk” – meanwhile, in Albany, I have taken a lead in the fight for housing affordability, ensuring middle-class New Yorkers aren’t priced out of their communities.

Growing and Strengthening the Middle-Class

But even the biggest real estate tycoons in New York City understand that we need an economy with a strong middle class for their assets to appreciate. It’s the thriving middle class that keeps our democracy healthy while attracting new talents to the workforce.

In many parts of Flushing, we have inter-generational and new immigrant homeowners who invested their life’s savings in their homes for their families. They moved to parts of my district to access better schools, transportation, parks, and a better quality of life.

Unlike Yi Chen, who just moved into a million-dollar condo to run for office in Flushing, I am raising my young family in the same neighborhood I grew up in.

Yi Chen sees Flushing blocks as an opportunity to make more money, while I want to keep uplifting our neighborhoods, and will keep fighting for our hardworking families seeking upward mobility–this is personal to me, I’ve spent my life in our community and understand our needs deeply.

Creating a Win for Residents, Workers, and the Real Estate Industry

To grow and strengthen the middle class, you need to legislate with balance. You need a nuanced approach, by building more affordable housing while protecting first-time homeowners, and supplying public support (upgraded sewage, new schools, energy) and relying on private growth of the real estate industry. 

You can’t just come into districts like mine and start converting neighborhoods with character into stuffed city blocks filled with luxury condos, illegal basements, and “McMansions” that residents can’t afford.

My Track Record Speaks for Itself

I negotiated for this year’s State Budget to successfully strike that balance. We established a badly-needed successor for the 421-A tax incentive for real estate developers (now called 485-x).

The program we built is a win for workers, residents, and the real estate industry. It enacts tax exemptions for developers, with stricter requirements for affordable housing–spurring new construction of multiple dwellings that include affordable units, including small, middle, and large rental projects. All with 100% unionized work that ensures fair wages and provides great jobs to further build our middle-class.

Further, we enacted historic protections for tenants and homeowners, including my groundbreaking legislation that defines squatters as intruders, protections against residential deed theft, and more.

Advocating for Our Community

Yi Chen claims I took “no action” on Gov. Hochul’s Housing Compact to upzone communities, while I was actually an outspoken opponent of the legislation that we did not pass. I advocated for the middle-class home owning families of Northern Flushing, who need the character of their neighborhood protected.

Our kids go to school here, play in our parks, and we all benefit from the quality of life in this resident-focused neighborhood, where people want to start and raise families.

Yi Chen’s idea of “taking action” would have destroyed the fabric of our community through upzoning in Gov. Hochul’s failed proposal.

Constituents are too smart to fall for Andy Yi Chen’s misleading proposals, and it’s why he did not get their votes when he ran for City Council outside of Flushing, and why the people of our community will continue to support me, as we build our middle-class and uplift all who call our community home.

Raised in Flushing, Assemblymember Kim is a lifelong public servant who is focused on protecting and growing the middle class and has taken a lead in the fight for housing affordability and public safety so middle-class New Yorkers stay safe and aren’t priced out of their communities.