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Green Party gubernatorial candidate advocates billions more for public housing

Ellen Abbott

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins is calling for an expansion of public housing in New York State. At the same time, Hawkins is criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s housing investment strategies.

Speaking in his home base of Syracuse, Hawkins decried the decline of public housing options, standing between two weed-infested vacant lots.

“In this case, both on this side of the street and the other side, there was once over 400 units of affordable housing,” Hawkins said, “but no affordable housing has been built since this project was torn down in 2013.”

Hawkins said the vacant lots also are a good example of how the Cuomo Administration’s public-private partnership model leads to pay-to-play corruption. He noted many of the principals in a no-bid, no-money-down deal at the site have since been caught up on corruption charges in connection with other state projects.

Hawkins’ answer to all this is to pump billions into the state municipal housing authority to create mixed-use housing.

“I’m talking about high-quality housing, that’s mixed income, which will help reduce the segregation," he said. "That’s humanly scaled on scattered sites, not concentrated on high rises, that’s built in the suburbs, as well as the cities and all neighborhoods in the city, and that’s green,” he said.

Hawkins said currently, 1 percent of New York’s housing is publicly run. He would like to see that share go up to 20 percent.

Hawkins releases tax returns

Hawkins also is the latest candidate to release his income tax returns. It has become an issue in the race for New York governor, with incumbent Cuomo pushing challengers Cynthia Nixon and Marc Molinaro to release tax returns for the last 10 years.

Hawkins believes there are more important issues the candidates should be talking about.

“I don’t think it’s how much money you got or where you come from, it’s where you’re going,” he said. People should see your returns to see if you have conflicts of interest.  But I don’t think it’s a major issue in this campaign.”

Hawkins made about $81,000 last year, most in a capital gains move as part of his retirement. He made about $28,000 working for UPS, from where he retired earlier this year.

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