A slate of democratic socialists hoping to bring their anti-capitalist agenda to Albany have some thought-provoking proposals — like doing away with private property.
Boris Santos, who is mounting a primary challenge against Assemblyman Erik Dilan (D-Bushwick), floated the notion of purging private ownership of apartment buildings as a way of alleviating the city’s affordable housing crisis at a packed Crown Heights bar Saturday night as a pair of Democratic Socialists of America-backed candidates launched campaigns for state offices.
“We believe that we should eradicate private property and go to a model of collective ownership,” the 29-year-old told the crowd. “That’s why we will invest in things like community land trusts.”
Santos recently stepped down as chief of staff to state Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn), who became the first Democratic Socialist elected to the Legislature last year. He and other DSA-endorsed candidates are trying to unseat Democrats they feel aren’t far left enough or have served for too long in Albany.
Santos was joined by Jabari Brisport, a public school teacher who unsuccessfully primaried City Council Member Laurie Cumbo on the Green Party Line in 2017, running for Sen. Velmanette Montgomery’s Central Brooklyn seat. Also, Phara Souffrant Forrest, a tenant organizer and nurse challenging Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D-Prospect Heights) and Marcela Mitaynes, a tenant organizer challenging Assemblyman Félix Ortiz (Sunset Park).
The DSA candidates championed other less radical housing-related ideas, including eviction protections for market-rate tenants and a right-of-first refusal for tenants to purchase buildings when they are put up for sale, and vowed to fight a City Hall plan to bring private management to public housing.
“When we run, we run with a squad,” Santos added in a nod to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other young progressive members of Congress. “We run with numbers. Because we know that in numbers there’s power. And this power is anti-capitalist baby!”
Landlord and real estate groups, already reeling from the historic tenant-friendly rent reform package passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature this year, balked at the Socialists’ vision.
“Mr. Santos and his trust fund political allies are pushing policies that will devastate the very communities they claim to care about,” said Jay Martin, executive director of Community Housing Improvement Program, a pro-landlord group. “He should talk to some NYCHA residents about government-run housing before pushing for a state takeover of all apartments.
“Right now, we need serious elected officials with genuine intentions to help tackle the housing issues plaguing New York, not a self-appointed hero peddling Marxist utopias,” he added.
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