Brooklyn-born, Puerto Rican-roots Rick Echevarria has announced his candidacy for the 37th City Council District seat in Brooklyn in June’s Democratic Party Primary, running on housing issues.
The 37th City Council District comprises the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick, Cypress Hills, East New York, Ocean Hill-Brownsville and City Line.
“I’m running because I am fed-up with housing injustice and administrative housing corruption,” Echevarria told Caribbean Life on Monday. “Our city’s housing agencies, the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) are all plagued by deep levels of administrative failure, mismanagement and corruption.
“These failures have a direct impact on the lives of people throughout NYC, and they lead to massive inequality, gentrification and displacement,” he added.
“Our housing problems are not just about affordability or insufficient supply, we have a real crisis of management of affordable housing programs and enforcement of existing housing laws, and prosecution of housing corruption,” Echevarria continued. “I am running to bring an end to the decades-long era of administrative housing mismanagement and corruption.”
He said he wants “complete reorganization of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation Development and an end to the use of hotels to house homeless families and individuals at a cost of $3200 per person per month, and $6200 per month for a family of two.
“We are not solving the housing crisis by continuing to rely on broken management systems and on wasting obscene amounts of money to house the homeless in hotels,” he declared, stating that his central goal is “to create housing stability for both tenants and homeowners in the 37th Council District and across the city.”
Echevarria said this can be accomplished by using the oversight power of the City Council to “rid our housing agencies of deeply entrenched managerial negligence and by building programs that protect homeowners of color, so that they are not constantly targeted by speculators who harass them in efforts to get them to sell their homes when they don’t want to sell.”
He said he is a “lifelong resident” of the district, having worked in community-based organizations in the district and in city government.
Echevarria said his message about ending alleged housing corruption is resonating with tenants, homeowners and NYCHA residents, “because housing corruption is something they have lived and experienced for decades.
“They understand when I tell them that HPD and NYCHA are plagued by negligence and corruption,” he said. “And they are ready to take action to end the corruption.”
He boasts of over 10 years of experience working as a community development professional in New York City on social, economic and public health issues impacting low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities and immigrant populations.
In addition, Echevarria said he has “demonstrated community relations and engagement skills,” with extensive experience recruiting and training staff and volunteers; working with diverse stakeholders, such as elected officials, community leaders and government personnel; and developing and coordinating public education campaigns that include workshops, lectures and social media components.
The City Council candidate said he also has experience conducting community needs assessments/field research, conducting inquiries, collecting data, and producing quantitative and qualitative research analysis.
He said he offers policy analysis expertise, “with excellent research and writing ability and a comprehensive understanding of legislative processes in New York City and New York State.”
Echevarria said he has “proven experience” in program development, management, and implementing non-profit and/or public sector community development projects.
With fluency in Spanish in a district in which almost 50 percent of district residents only speak Spanish, having longstanding district relationships, a long track record as a housing activist in the district and by being able to communicate issues in a language that voters understand, Echevarria said he has “strong paths to victory.”