: Campaign director of Housing Here and Now, the city's housing activist group Where you live: Downtown Manhattan

During the summer, Housing Here and Now released a list of the city's worst landlords. What's the been the reaction so far?
The announcement of the Fix It Now! campaign's release of the 10 worst landlords and launch of the New York City's Worst Landlords website have shaken things up. Widespread press coverage helped to get the word out quickly. More than 4,000 people immediately visited our site, many telling us about their stories with bad landlords. Elected officials stepped up to talk about the issue, the campaign has helped elevate the issue of quality affordable housing in the Mayoral race, with all democratic candidates joining us to visit some of the worst buildings in Harlem and the Bronx. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has stepped up some of their enforcement actions. The City Council speaker committed to passing the Healthy Homes Act to require stricter code enforcement. Citibank has stepped forward to commit to get repairs made by problem landlords they lend to. Some of the landlords have also responded.

The biggest success so far is winning the agreement by one of the landlords, Gadi Zamir to clean up the thirteen buildings he owns and that are in horrible shape. We launched the campaign in front of a building owned by
Zamir on Academy Street in Inwood. After a series of actions and our engagement of Citibank, the lender for the Academy Street and other Zamir buildings, Mr. Zamir sat down to negotiate with tenants and Housing Here and
Now. We'll watchdog these repairs and reach out to other lenders to urge them step forward in a similar way, while pursuing additional actions from the City.

These landlords represent an extreme; what are more common complaints tenants have that landlords should be addressing?
They are an extreme in the number of violations -- for example the 76-unit Academy Street building has more than 800 violations, including lead paint, rats, mold, broken windows, leaks, chipped plaster. Many of the people who
live these buildings have few options for other affordable units and so are stuck in bad situations. However, many New Yorkers, have problem landlords and have trouble getting repairs, even if the situations are less severe. If tenants are having a hard time getting their landlord or super to make repairs, they should call 311 and report the problems to HPD to try to get an inspector out to make get violations on the books and help force repairs.

Tenants can also look up their buildings on the HPD website to find out the history of violations in their building.

Do you find most tenants are resigned to not bothering their landlords?
Sometimes tenants are afraid that their landlords will harrass or try to evict them if they complain, sometimes landlords are offsite and tenants don't even know how to reach them, and sometimes they are resigned to non-action, due to a long history of unresponsiveness. Housing Here and Now urges tenants to call 311 and report problems if they are getting no action from landlords. There are additional resources on our NYC's Worst Landlords website.

Tell us a little about Housing Here and Now.
Housing Here and Now is a broad coalition of more than 120 affordable housing, tenant, labor, AIDS activist and homeless groups that formed to put a clear, doable agenda to build, fix, and save affordable housing on the City's agenda. On February 2, 2005, more than 7000 people rallied at City Hall for the Mayor and City Council to step forward to guarantee quality affordable housing for all New Yorkers. The Fix It Now campaign is the current focus of the coalition to get slumlords to clean up the buildings that have thousands of New Yorkers living in despicable conditions.

Housing Here and Now's five points are: Fulfilling the promise of Battery Park City; Inclusionary Zoning; Restoring "Home Rule" Over Rent Protections; Permanent Housing for Homeless People Living with AIDS; and Strengthening Housing Code Enforcement.

Which do you think have the most potential to change in the near future?
The Housing Here and Now coalition has had tremendous success so far, winning a commitment to use $135 million of the Battery Park City revenues for affordable housing; winning a guarantee that 34% of the new housing in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning affordable housing be affordable to low and middle-income people; passing three laws to expedite permanent affordable housing for people living with AIDS; winning a home rule message from the City Council and commitment from all democratic mayoral candidates to fight for NYC control over rent regulations; and now the launch of the Fix It Now campaign to strengthen code enforcement and clean up the thousands of units in violation.

Is New York City already in a crisis state with the way the housing situation is?
Estimates are that we are at least 200,000 units short on housing for low and middle-income people. Affordable housing, as many people have direct experience with, is in short supply. One of the things that makes New York
City great and desirable for many who live here is the incredible diversity of people in all regards -- race, age, background, job choice, income. This is a city of new and old immigrants, of artists and musicians, and people
coming here with little to make a life. Similar to New Orleans, it's the mingling of cultures and struggle that produced the blues and much of makes that city rich. And it's the poor who are in jeopardy of being edged out as that city rebuilds and as New York City grows. Increasingly, NYC is becoming less diverse, chasing out all but the wealthy. We need housing for all of the people who make this city work -- bus drivers, restaurant workers, teachers, health care workers, young families, senior citizens -- and we're pretty far down the path toward a New York City where only Wall Street financiers and corporate lawyers can afford to live in the city limits.

Can you do a little political forecasting for us - which mayoral candidate out there seems ready to do the most to address the housing situation?
Affordable housing is being talked about by all of the candidates for mayor and most other offices -- city council, borough president, even the DA's race. The more that the candidates compete on being the best on affordable
housing the best it is for low and middle-income people who want quality housing. Housing Here and Now does not endorse candidates, and we are willing to stand up with anyone who takes strong action to Fix It Now!

What are some of the ways that residents can work with their local politicians to get housing concerns heard?
The City Council is a good place to start --- nyccouncil.info -- is the Council's website, where folks can plug in their address and find out their Councilmember and how to contact them. In addition, the borough president may be a useful contact.

What are the best and worst gentrification trends?
Best: Gorilla coffee
Worst: That horrific building across from the Astor Place Cube and the genericizing of the City.

What's your favorite neighborhood to wander around in? (and why?)
It changes regularly, but at present, downtown. It's the oldest part of the city and the incredible architecture around Wall Street and Tribeca is some of the most beautiful in the city. Plus as cliched as it may be, the view of the Statue of Liberty and breeze off the Hudson still can raise the joy of being in NYC. There's a stretch of Mott Street in Chinatown that doglegs and looks like a movie set, and two old churches with them same plaque (claiming the same founders and same date.)

What is your favorite subway line?
2,3. No reason other than it's what I travel most.

Cats or dogs?
Cats for now.