As Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction, and Community Development, Brian Kavanagh has built on his decades of advocating for access to high quality, safe, affordable housing for all New Yorkers.
He has worked to secure huge public investments in housing and related services, including $5.5 billion in capital and $2.5 billion in other expenditures in the 2022-2023 State budget to renovate and maintain existing affordable housing, create new homes for homeless, low-income, and middle class New Yorkers, and provide financial assistance for renters and homeowners.
In 2022, Brian passed a law to facilitate conversion of under-used hotels to permanent affordable housing, and advanced his proposal in both the Senate and the Assembly for a new large-scale Housing Access Voucher Program, modeled on the federal Section 8 program, to provide rental assistance for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or facing eviction.
From the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian advocated to stop evictions and foreclosures and to provide funding to keep renters and homeowners from losing their homes. He authored the statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium, extending it three times, for a total of 22 months. He also succeeded in enacting New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Homeowner Assistance Fund, and allocating $3.5 billion for these programs to date, including the largest investment of state funds for this purpose in the country. Brian continues to advocate for additional federal and state funds to fully cover the need.
In 2019, Brian led the Senate effort to enact the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which gave New York the most comprehensive tenant protections in the nation. The HSTPA dramatically strengthened the rent regulation laws, made them permanent, enabled any locality with a very low vacancy rate to adopt rent regulation, created new protections for residents of mobile and manufactured home parks, and instituted other substantial new rights for all renters statewide. In 2022, Brian co-chaired a public hearing on legislation he cosponsors that would expand tenant protections to New Yorkers who don’t have rent stabilization by requiring landlords show they have good cause in eviction cases.
Under Brian’s leadership, the Housing Committee held hearings on enforcement of housing, building, and fire codes and advanced broad packages of legislation that passed the Senate in 2020 and 2022. Throughout his tenure, Brian has fought for major improvements in the management, maintenance, and security of public housing. While there have been some successes, including state capital funds allocated in recent years, he continues to advocate for a better response from city, state, and federal government.
In response to thorough reporting by Newsday on racial and ethnic discrimination by real estate brokers on Long Island, Brian joined colleagues to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, investigate the allegations, and produce a report identify ways to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair access to housing. The resulting legislative package was enacted in 2021. Brian also successfully advocated in 2019, 2020, and 2021 to restore funding for foreclosure prevention counseling and legal services, which had been cut from the Executive budget. In 2022, he led the successful push to substantially increase this funding to meet the greater need resulting from the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also authored and co-sponsored several new laws to protect the rights of homeowners in the foreclosure process.
Locally within the Senate District he represents, Brian has championed the Neighborhood Preservation Program to ensure that community organizations have the resources they need to provide front-line housing services in Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg. He enacted legislation in 2022 to protect housing stability for residents of Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists, a special type of housing that permits residential use of commercial and manufacturing loft spaces in SoHo and NoHo. He passed legislation through the Senate and the Assembly to expand programs that freeze the rents of lower-income seniors and those with disabilities to include residents of former Mitchell-Lama buildings like Independence Plaza North in Manhattan. He also passed legislation to extend these programs to residents of Battery Park City, to help promote the long-term stability of the community by extending the master lease between the BPC Authority and the City by 50 years, and to require a majority of the Authority’s board to be primary residents of Battery Park City.