I have deep roots in Brooklyn
Rick Echevarría – Biography and Experience
I am a lifelong resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn. I began my career in community service with East Brooklyn Congregations (“EBC”) and with Make The Road By Walking, when it was just a start-up. EBC is a chapter of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which was founded by Saul Alinsky.
In 2003, I founded the Bushwick Housing Independence Project, a tenants’ organizing and eviction prevention initiative that organized over 100 multifamily buildings in Bushwick and won the creation of a Community Land Trust in Bushwick comprised of 16 multi-family buildings. In 2005, my work with the Bushwick Housing Independence Project was noted in a report published by the New York Daily News.
I then became a senior manager at CHANGER, Inc., the only citywide organization that organized homeowners that were victims of subprime lenders. After the financial crisis, I began working on a community organizing project in Brazil’s largest urban slum in Rio de Janeiro, where I helped to launch a public health outreach program.
My work to advocate for and to seek housing justice has earned media mentions. In 2004, the news Web site City Limits quoted my remarks about a landlord, who was accused of being a slumlord. My advocacy work inspired me to work for City Government, so I could be an agent of change from the inside.
I then accepted a management position at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) as the citywide Director of the Tenant Interim Lease Program, a program that was created to provide low-income city residents with an opportunity for homeownership through cooperative ownership. My employment with HPD ended in a whistleblower case that was recently settled.
I have been advocating for housing justice for the past 20 years. It is this issue, more so than any other, that is compelling me to seek a seat on the New York City Council. I learned first-hand that the city’s affordable housing crisis is not just one defined by insufficient supply and rising rents, but by the gross mismanagement, negligence, and corruption that plagues the city’s housing preservation stock that is managed by HPD — which is approximately 400,000 units of housing. Mitchell-Lama developments, New York City Housing Development Fund Corporation cooperatives (“HDFCs”), and Tenant Interim Lease program (“TIL properties”) managed or in which HPD has oversight are in a critical state and at peril of loss. These are programs that the housing justice community fought to create decades ago. Now, quietly and slowly more and more of those developments are failing. It is the New York City Council’s power of oversight over the management and administration of city agencies that has the immediate potential to reverse this trend and salvage this vital housing stock.
Combined with the problems that plague the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) and the disarray within the New York City Department of Homeless Services (“DHS”), the city agencies that most impact housing availability, quality, and affordability are in a state of administrative crisis that will take bold leadership to end.
I am running for City Council to provide the bold leadership to lead the city in a new direction. I hope you will support me.