New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

More Affordable Housing, Less Overdevelopment

Council Member Ben Kallos Fighting for Affordable Housing & Against Overdevelopment

As lifelong tenant Ben knows what it's like to have his rent spiked to force his family out during a difficult high risk pregnancy. Living through this pandemic in a market-rate one-bedroom with his wife, daughter, and cat, Ben knows first hand that despite all the vacant apartments everyone is talking about New York City still has an affordable housing crisis.

Real estate developers get billions in tax breaks, corrupt politicians get thousands in contributions, and tenants pay for it all. That's why Ben has always refused big money from real estate developers, corporations, and lobbyists. This has freed Ben to fight to build or preserve affordable housing, against the displacement of affordable housing by overdevelopment, and for tenants:

Hundreds of thousands of affordable homes will now be available for re-rental thanks to a law Ben wrote, with 6,000 affordable homes built or preserved on city land under his oversight and 1,000 affordable apartments built or preserved in his district alone. We’ve also won the first-of-its-kind, community-led rezoning to stop Billionaire's Row then gone on to rezone residential neighborhoods throughout the city to stop the construction of buildings with empty voids that only serve to give billionaires better views. Ben even wrote the law to turn down the volume on after-hours construction.

Fresh Ideas: More Affordable Housing, Less Overdevelopment

We need more housing that is affordable to every New Yorker. Unfortunately, real estate developers would rather build skyscrapers and supertall towers for billionaires then the housing we need. Development in New York City is governed by a two-dimensional measure of density, ill-equipped to regulate today's market forces, that allows real estate developer to build the same amount of housing in a building 500-feet tall, when it would just as easily fit in a building 200-feet tall. That's why Ben funded studies by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District and CIVITAS to see how we can use restrictions on building heights to mandate the construction of new affordable housing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Community Board 8 Manhattan has issued resolutions in support of this plan to require any building over a certain height to include affordable housing. As the next Manhattan Borough President, Ben will win a rezoning to require any building over a certain height to include affordable housing, everywhere in Manhattan.

More Fresh Ideas: More Affordable Housing, Less Overdevelopment

Billionaire's Row from Central Park

After years of out-of-control, out-of-scale over-development, I wanted to put residents over real estate, and we did. In late 2017 we accomplished what many described as impossible. We won the first of its kind grass-roots community rezoning in this City for the Sutton Area.

With the invaluable help of the committed members of the East River Fifties Alliance, we stopped the march of super-tall buildings for billionaires from 57th Street into the Sutton Area. The rezoning initially removed the grandfather clause and will protect the Sutton Area East of First Avenue from 52nd to 59th st. from future supertall towers by limiting zoning lot mergers, limiting the width of towers, and forcing most of the air rights to be used in the base of a building.

We were able to accomplish this thanks to the support of residents like you. Heroes like Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez stood up to buyouts and threats from billionaires. Leaders like Dieter Seelig, former President of the Sutton Area Community got us started and Alan Kersh, Robert Shepler, Jessica Osborn, and Lisa Mercurio put countless volunteer hours into ERFA.

Learn more about Stop Billionaire's Row.