Local advocacy group, Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH) has launched a campaign along with local elected officials and community members to address the ongoing affordable housing crisis in the city.
Last Thursday, members from CUFFH, joined clergy members from across the city, as well as several City Council members on the steps of City Hall to address the issue.
“Affordable housing should be accessible to all new Yorkers. The process should be simple and not complicated,” said Daisy Lopez, Chair of the Board of Directors of CUFFH. “The applications should be downloadable, easily available and translated in the languages that reflect our diverse City. Right now, it is unfortunate to know the application process is not easy to navigate and difficult to obtain if you do not have internet access. The City should correct this wrong by passing this legislation.”
This latest campaign is being launched in conjunction with a new a bill introduced by Councilmember Antonio Reynoso. Int. No. 877 hopes to increase the marketing requirements for affordable housing.
If passed, the bill will increase public awareness of affordable housing opportunities, and make them more accessible to people who may not necessarily have access to digital platforms across which most of the paperwork is conducted today.
In addition the bill will seek to overcome the language barrier posed by many of the application processes due to the fact they’re only available in English.
“Right now, about one third of people in my district don’t have access to broadband internet at home, and that number is even higher in parts of the city like the Bronx,” said Reynoso. ”This is particularly an issue for seniors citywide, about 45% of whom don’t have broadband at home. Also, about 20% of people in my community are considered ‘language isolated,’ meaning they primarily speak a language other than English. This can lead to difficulties navigating a system for accessing affordable housing that is both online and mostly in English.”
Much of the new bill focuses on raising awareness of affordable housing opportunities through traditional methods of outreach that continue to have a strong presence in immigrant communities in the city.
Placing ads in non-English language newspapers, publishing advertisements at least six weeks prior to the commencement of a housing lottery and holding pre-marketing seminars six months before a lottery are just some of the methods for increasing awareness being floated by advocates.