Serrano At Anti-displacement Town Hall

José M. Serrano

January 15, 2009

Senator Serrano took part in the Anti-Displacement Task Force Town Hall, held Thursday night at the East Harlem Multi-Service Center.

The purpose of the Town Hall was to create a conversation between elected officials and their constituents. As such, a diverse group of residents and advocates delivered opening statements and posed questions to the Senator and his colleagues.

"The overwhelming majority of constituents who walk into my office have housing problems," said the Senator, who called affordable housing his number one priority.

In response to a question from the panel, he reiterated his strong support for repeal of vacancy decontrol, and discussed his fight against predatory equity investment. "I am pushing the city and state to vet unsupportable real estate deals before they happen. Moreover, I am intent on putting the banks, not just the developers, under the microscope for their bad lending practices."

The Senator also touched upon his advocacy for better-funded and better-administrated vouchers for homeless families. He praised members of the Task Force for their logistical support, and for making sure that legislators and government agencies are held accountable.

"The economy is bad. There's no way around that," he said. "But in crisis, I believe there is real opportunity for progressive reform and more equitable growth." The Senator said he was in the process of writing to Congressional leaders in Washington to promote capital investment in public housing by way of the upcoming stimulus package.

"This will reinvigorate our local economy, create jobs for residents here in the community, and – most important – ensure that my constituents can once again enjoy safe and quality housing."

The Senator thanked Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito for her work in developing the Task Force and organizing the Town Hall. "Thanks to her efforts, we have been able to create a cohesive and visionary agenda for East Harlem."