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, and substantial increases since then, 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 several recent legislative sessions, Brian has 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 more than $4 billion for these programs, including the largest investment of state funds for this purpose in the country.
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. Brian has chaired public hearings and frequently advocated for legislation 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; he is committed to enacting these protections.
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 identifying ways to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair access to housing. The resulting legislative package was enacted in 2021. Brian also successfully advocated each year since 2019 to restore and expand funding for foreclosure prevention counseling and legal services. He has also authored and co-sponsored several new laws to protect the rights of homeowners in the foreclosure process, and passed a bill he authored in 2023 to protect homeowners from deed theft.
Within the Senate District he represents, Brian joined Governor Kathy Hochul in July 2023 to announce a new $65 million investment to ensure that one-third of the 1200 apartments to be developed at 5 World Trade Center will be permanently affordable for very low-, low-, and moderate-income households, with a significant portion of the affordable units to be offered for New Yorkers impacted by 9/11. For many years, 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, and other neighborhoods. 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 also passed legislation 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 and to extend these programs to residents of Battery Park City, and to help promote the long-term stability of the BPC community by extending the master lease between the BPC Authority and the City by 50 years.