Brian Kavanagh is the leading advocate in the New York State legislature for tenant and homeowner protections, for creating and preserving affordable housing, and for ensuring that no New Yorker is ever homeless because they can’t pay their rent. This goal has been one of Brian’s lifelong priorities since his early days as a housing policy staffer in City Hall.
As chair for the Senate Housing committee, Brian has been a champion of tenants, homeowners, and small business owners, by leading the efforts to prevent New Yorkers from losing their homes or suffering long-term financial burdens due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian successfully advocated for the statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium beginning in March 2020, and authored legislation to secure and extend the moratorium three times. Additionally, Brian led Senate negotiations to enact the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide $4 billion in rent relief. Those efforts built on his 2019 leadership in enacting the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, giving New York some of the strongest rent regulation and tenant protection laws in the nation.
Brian has also been a leader on gun violence prevention, repeatedly taking on the gun industry lobby and winning, helping to ensure that New York has some of the toughest gun laws and one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths and injuries in America. In 2013, as founder and co-chair of New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, Brian played a leading role in enacting the NY SAFE Act, requiring background checks on all gun sales, and banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. He also authored New York’s “red flag” law to keep guns away from people who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others, and advocated successfully for more community-based gun violence intervention programs. In 2022, when the Supreme Court struck down our state’s laws regulating carrying guns, Brian led the Senate debate to promptly enact a new law to keep strong restrictions in place, within the bounds of the Constitution.
Brian’s additional priorities include action on climate change and environmental protection, election and campaign finance reform, schools and education, and economic and social justice—as well the many community issues Brian has tackled on behalf of residents of the communities he has represented for many years. Brian has played a leading role in enacting groundbreaking legislation in each of these areas.
Brian has been awarded New Yorkers Against Gun Violence’s Detective McDonald Award, the League of Conservation Voters’ Eco-Star Award as well as top ratings each year from LCV and Environmental Advocates of New York, Fair Vote’s Champion of Democracy Award, and the City University of New York’s Baruch College Legislator of the Year Award.
A legislator with a proven track record in advancing a progressive agenda, Brian was first elected to the legislature in 2006 as an Assemblymember and was elected to the Senate in 2017. Brian is running for reelection to represent Senate District 27. The boundaries changed in 2023 due to redistricting, but the district includes all of the Manhattan neighborhoods Brian previously represented in the Senate—Battery Park City, Chinatown, the East Village, the Financial District, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, SoHo, the South Village, Tribeca, and Two Bridges—with the addition of Hudson Square, Greenwich Village, the West Village, Washington Square Park, NoHo, and the area immediately south of Union Square.
Before he was elected to the legislature, Brian served on the staff of City Councilmember Gale Brewer and in the administrations of Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins. One of six children of an Irish-immigrant police officer and a community leader who worked at a local newspaper, Brian is a lifelong New Yorker and a resident of Manhattan for more than three decades. He grew up on Staten Island, attended Regis High School and Princeton University on scholarship, and earned his law degree from New York University, where he was a Dean’s Scholar. He teaches a course in Columbia University’s Master’s program in environmental sustainability management. When not working, Brian loves to play chess, read, run or bike through the neighborhoods he proudly represents, and go hiking or backpacking in the Adirondacks, where he hopes to climb all 46 of the high peaks.