Manhattan Borough President candidate Mark Levine landed a major endorsement from the Tenants Political Action Committee (TenantsPAC).
According to the head of TenantsPAC Michael Mckee, slapping their seal of approval upon the candidate was determined thanks to Levine’s effort to create and expand the right to legal counsel for New Yorkers facing eviction. McKee told amNewYork Metro that the decision did not come lightly, however. Placing their faith in a prospective elected official is a representation of an organization’s ideals, so it took the board careful consideration to make the choice, but thanks to Levine’s steadfast support of residents during one of the worst health crises the city has ever faced, Mckee says the decision became clear.
“I think what finally tilted it for Mark was the right to counsel, which is a very big deal—a game changer giving tenants a free lawyer when they are sued in housing court. It is fair to say that swayed the majority of the board in favor of Mark Levine,” Mckee told amNewYork Metro.
As the election this year is decided through rank choice, this endorsement also comes with rank choice support. Mckee says that Levine is their top choice while Brad Holyman is their second. He also credits current Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for serving tenants and believes Levine will continue this work.
“The Borough President doesn’t power over rezoning but certainly the Borough President can make a very big impression through their bully pulpit,” Mckee said, explaining that with this new platform Levine could further aid and bring awareness to tenant rights if elected.
For Levine, he says that this endorsement means the world to him since he has been fighting for tenant rights long before the pandemic caused a downward spiral of looming evictions for thousands of New Yorkers.
“One of the greatest challenges Manhattan faces coming out of this pandemic is to protect vulnerable tenants in the face of what could be an epidemic of eviction on a scale we haven’t seen probably since the Great Depression,” Levine said.
If elected, Levine plans on dealing with the dual issue of creating more housing opportunities as well as more affordable housing. As a council member, he says this is an effort he has already accomplished within his district of Northern Manhattan.
“We’ve created hundreds of units of new affordable housing that’s equally affordable rents and I’m going to take that borough wide by using every tool at my disposal to force developers to create a maximum amount of affordable housing at deeply affordable rents,” Levine said.
Levine credits the large number of backings from several labor unions and now the TenantsPAC on his corner to his dedication on fighting for equity throughout his career, especially during the pandemic.
“I think perhaps most prominently what I have done as Chair of the Health Committee during this pandemic is where I just stood up for equity up to and including the vaccination effort, which I’ve loudly called for better efforts to reach communities of color, which are being left behind. It’s who I am, it’s how I live my life that’s the kind of Borough President I’ll be,” Levine said.