City Nearing Billion Dollar NYCHA Settlement + Electoral/Housing

A note to our readers: The Thorn has switched from Mailchimp to Substack so we can keep delivering you local New York politics news from a socialist perspective with fewer administrative costs. Starting in January 2022 our new issues can be at along with how to subscribe. This website will serve as an archive of our past issues.

Local News:

  • The City is nearing a settlement in a longstanding federal investigation into false claims about NYCHA. The settlement will require an additional $1 billion in City funding to NYCHA over four years, and possibly as much as $2.2 billion over ten years. It is unclear if the federal settlement will supersede a separate executive order issued at the state level by Governor Cuomo in April. In the meantime, Comptroller Scott Stringer has announced he will not follow the Governor’s order, citing a conflict of interest.
  • The City is dedicating over 300 parking spaces to car-sharing vehicles, in an effort to provide alternatives to car ownership and more effectively use public space.
  • The NY State Assembly introduced a “Protect Our Courts” Act (A11013) to curtail ICE activity in state courts.
  • A court-ordered release of Mayor de Blasio’s emails with consultant BerlinRosen shed light on the way the Mayor’s office works with real estate developers to package “affordable housing” to the press.
  • A stalemate in the NY State Senate has brought to question the constitutional role of the Lieutenant Governor to provide a “casting vote.”
  • A City Council-created task force has recommended that CUNY go tuition-free. Also included in its report were other recommendations, including hiring more full-time faculty, guidance counselors, increased pay for adjuncts, and an elimination of the credit requirement for the Excelsior Scholarship.
  • The Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission may also focus on land-use issues, in addition to the expected changes pertaining to campaign finance and voter turnout.
  • The Mayor’s Fund to Advance the City of New York, a city-run non-profit chaired by First Lady Chirlane McCray, has suffered a decline in fundraising and programs supported during the de Blasio administration. The non-profit recently moved into larger offices that include a new, private office for the First Lady, and operating costs have increased by 50% over the past two years. Yet in 2017, the First Lady’s public schedules recorded less than 20 hours spent on official Fund business.
  • Mayor De Blasio and the DOT unveiled a redesign of a red light on 9th Street in Park Slope, the site of a fatal accident in March, and used the press conference to call on Albany to renew and expand the speed camera program.
  • Mayor de Blasio has called for completely scrapping the City’s Specialized High School Aptitude Test, which is partially responsible for the low numbers of black and Latinx students in the City’s prestigious specialized high schools.


  • Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14) has agreed to debate his DSA-endorsed primary challenger, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on June 15th.
  • The Indypendent profiled Ocasio-Cortez’s roots in the Bronx and Puerto Rico, her effort to unseat Joe Crowley, and her platform that includes Medicare for All, free tuition at public universities, and abolishing ICE.
  • Over 800 absentee ballots were not delivered to the Board of Elections for the 2017 vote.
  • Gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon is building a campaign infrastructure focused on grassroots networks and fundraising.
  • Nixon endorsed congestion pricing, a “polluter tax,” and Mayor de Blasio’s “millionaire tax” as remedies to New York’s transportation woes.
  • Hudson County Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) is poised to enter the NY State Attorney General race.

In-Depth: Lessons from a Joint Housing and Electoral Canvass

By Cea Weaver, Colin Vanderburg, and Asher Ross

Last Saturday in Bushwick, the Housing Working Group and Electoral Working Group teamed up for a joint canvass for universal rent control and Julia Salazar’s campaign for State Senate.

Twenty volunteers knocked on over 850 doors in Senate District 18. Experienced housing canvassers were paired with electoral volunteers so that the latter could observe the language and content used, and housing canvassers could see general canvassing best practices from electoral volunteers.

We hope to replicate Saturday’s canvass throughout the summer. As socialists, our goal is to build working-class power—whether at the polls, in our homes, or in our workplaces. New York tenants are a millions-strong constituency that cuts across lines of race, class, gender, and age. Many of us may vote as workers, students, or parents, but if we unite as tenants, we represent an unstoppable political force in New York City.

This is where DSA can play a vital role. Over 40 percent of our members live in buildings alongside rent-stabilized tenants, making this campaign a fight for our own homes and neighborhoods. Tens of thousands of rent-stabilized units—the city’s single biggest source of affordable housing—disappear each year as landlords and developers use every trick in the book to deregulate apartments, often by harassing and evicting longtime residents. The struggle for universal rent control is part of a broader vision for decommodifying the basic human needs—from housing to healthcare to education—that capitalism preys on for profit.

This is particularly important in Senate District 18, which includes some of the most rapidly gentrifying parts of Brooklyn. In New York, tenant protections (like many other issues) are decided at the State level, which is why it’s so important for socialists to think about taking statewide office. Senate District 18, where Julia Salazar is running, is home to thousands of working-class immigrants and people of color who are facing displacement as real estate speculators seek to buy and flip apartments that should be rent-stabilized. Living conditions in rent-stabilized buildings are deteriorating as landlords withhold services as a means of forcing people out. Rent control is the strongest tool we have to fight gentrification. Julia Salazar is a socialist and a tenant, and is running for office to strengthen tenants’ rights in New York State.

Here are some lessons from our joint canvass:

  1. Data is important. When planning our canvass, we targeted buildings we had marked as in distress, based on their high number of code violations or other signs that the landlord was trying to displace long-term residents. Many of the people we talked to were thus already agitated on the issue because of their own pressing situation, and were enthusiastic to hear about a candidate who is taking it on.

  2. Lead with the issue. Once we made the lift of the housing agitation, it was very easy to sell voting for Julia—and the expiring rent stabilization laws helped add context to the importance of the election. It was easier to approach people about an issue that deeply affects them, and follow with the candidate, than to simply sell people on a candidate. But it was also more effective than approaching a person about an issue alone, as the electoral ask sharpens the issue and presents a concrete alternative. Tenants in New York City—like you—are in trouble, and Julia Salazar has a plan to do something about it.

  3. Follow-up matters. We were doing a joint canvass to talk to voters about Julia Salazar, but also to promote a Tenant Town Hall on June 5th for people interested in joining our campaign for universal rent control. It was difficult to get solid yesses for an event ten days in advance; in order to turn the contacts we meet on the doors into participating members of DSA, we must commit to follow-up visits and/or phone calls.

To read more about our campaign for universal rent control, click here, and to sign up to canvass for Julia Salazar’s campaign for State Senate, click here. If you’re interested in being a field captain for the Brooklyn Electoral Field Team, you can sign up for the next training here.

Contribute to The Thorn

We welcome submissions of in-depth articles, comics and illustrations from anyone in DSA. Whether you want to write for us or just know of stories we should be covering, please get in touch.

Subscribe to The Thorn

The Thorn is a weekly update on what's happening in local New York politics from a socialist perspective. Please sign up with us to receive an email every Monday morning.