Eelected officials, local leaders and organizations joined City Council Candidate Pierina Sanchez on Saturday as they called for housing as a form of reparations for communities of color.
Among the people in attendance were: Congressmen Adriano Espaillat and Ritchie Torres, Assemblyman Kenny Burgos, Council Members Carlina Rivera and Member Keith Powers, CSEA union leader David Galarza and school teacher and mutual aid leader Salim Drammeh.
Two policies at the center of this fight are the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) at the city council level and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) at the state level. Passing these policies, while also pivoting existing affordable housing from rentals toward ownership, would provide communities that have been excluded from buying homes due to racist housing policies an opportunity for home ownership.
The rally follows Sanchez releasing an op ed earlier this week where she outlined in detail her vision for using legislation to fight for housing as form a reparations.
“We must look to the future,” Sanchez said. “Our housing instability is inherently tied to discriminatory practices that have kept communities like ours from building wealth. We must think of housing ownership as reparations for the harms of the past. I am calling for policies at the city, state, and federal government levels, that if targeted correctly will stabilize our community and help us build wealth. We can do this. The tools exist.”
Congressman Torres shared her concerns.
“The people who rebuilt the Bronx, the people who put their sweat equity into the borough, have a right to not only hold onto their homes, but to own those homes,” Torres said. “We know home ownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream, and communities of color have historically had the American Dream stripped away from us.”