Catalina Cruz received Tuesday another endorsement from City Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) for her bid for the State Assembly as she unveiled her housing plan.

    Levine joined Cruz, whose campaign in the 39th Assembly District promises to create “permanently affordable houses,” in a small press conference at Dunningham Triangle in Elmhurst.

    “I’m going to tell you why a council member from Manhattan has come all the way to Queens today,” Levine told the crowd of about 20 people. “It’s because of this neighborhood and neighborhoods all over New York City, tenants are in an existential fight for the future of our neighborhoods and communities.”

    A few of the supporters for Catalina Cruz during the candidate’s press conference. (Photo by Christian Spencer)

    Levine boosted his legislative achievement to provide tenants the right to counsel when facing eviction notices from landlords, but he seeks support from Cruz who, if elected state assemblywoman, could assist his city council agenda in the courts system.

    “Today, we want to put forth our policy agenda to make sure that every member of our community can stay living in our community,” Cruz said.

    Cruz told QCP that although her policies would take place on a statewide level, her intention is to secure living conditions for Queens constituents by giving them representation.

    “The first thing we want to do is to create a state-funded right to counsel,” Cruz said. “This will expand on your vision, Mark, on ensuring anyone who steps into court has representation.”

    In addition, she is campaigning for tenants who have preferential rent leases to remain the same until the end of their tenancy. She cited the lack of funding in community programs in legal and mental health services result in homelessness.

    A former housing attorney, Cruz said she is familiar with the common issues that comes with being a renter and homeowner, saying she wants to “make sure people’s rights and people’s homes are protected.”

    Cruz’s self-described progressive efforts includes stopping the initial stages of The Shoppes at 82nd Street, a luxury project development, directly behind her presentation.

    “If you’re going to build house like these folks behind here are doing…you’re going to have to give something back,” Cruz said.

    As construction could be heard throughout her speech, Cruz pledged to prevent the project with other community leaders.

    “There was an attempt to create, ‘affordable housing,’ but it was instead going to endanger the kind of community we have. The kind of community that values small businesses…renters in need,” she said.

    Shekar Krishnan, a lawyer for low-income tenants and president of the New Vision Democratic Club, supported the plans put forth by Cruz and Levine.

    “[Cruz] has been a good friend and activist in the community of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst. We have been organizing for a long time, and she is both someone I personally admire and inspired by her,” Krishnan said.

    Cruz faces incumbent State Assembly Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona) and Yonel Letellier Sosa. The Democratic primary is set for Thursday, September 13.

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