New York State Homes & Community Renewal Commissioner Darryl Towns attended the recent 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting as part of Cuomo’s “People First Tour” throughout the state to explain the governor’s plan for making Albany more responsive.
“What the governor is doing is using his Cabinet to go throughout the state and share his priorities with the people before the state legislature adjourns on June 20,” said Towns, a former assemblyman and son of U.S. Rep. Ed Towns. Towns said the first priority is to cap all property taxes throughout the state at 2 percent,or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
The second priority is state ethics reform to restore the people’s confidence in public service, he said.
“There needs to be more transparency in Albany,” said Towns. “For example, there are a number of state legislators that are attorneys and they need to list all their clients doing business with the state for the public to see.”
Towns said the third priority is marriage equality so that all families – gay or heterosexual- have the same protections under the law.
The last priority is to make sure to renew and strengthen rent control legislation as it expires on June 15.
“We need to protect affordable housing units in the city,” said Towns.
Towns said this includes upping the level in which landlords can move units off rent control from $2,500 to $3,000 a month.
Part of the affordable housing component also includes ensuring that any developers that work in the state get tax incentives only if they include housing for low- and middle-income residents, he said.
Towns said developers would also have to comply with Cuomo’s strengthening of laws requiring them to subcontract a certain amount of work to minority-and women-owned businesses.
The People First Tour comes as Cuomo readies to announce a date for a special election to fill the 54th Assembly District seat that Towns vacated to become the state housing czar.
Thus far in the running are community organizer Jesus Gonzalez, who reportedly has U. S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s backing; Rafael Espinal, who is the chief of staff to City Councilman Erik Dilan, and Towns’ sister, Deidra Towns.
Commissioner Towns said that due to his new position he must stay out of endorsing anyone publically, but he does have a rooting interest.
“I’m still a kid from Brooklyn and a big brother,” he said. “I have a rooting interest for my little sister.”