New York City Council Member Corey Johnson was elected in November 2013 with over 86% of the vote to represent District 3 in the New York City Council, which covers Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the West Village, and parts of Flatiron, SoHo and the Upper West Side.
Corey Johnson was raised in a union household where his mother, a homeless services provider, and his father, a Teamster, instilled in him the values of community service and political engagement. Corey first came to national attention in 2000 when he became a trailblazer for LGBT youth. As the captain of his high school football team, he took the courageous step of coming out publicly, and kept not only his position of leadership, but also the support of his school and teammates. Corey’s bravery landed him on the front page of the New York Times, and he began telling his story to audiences of young people across the country.
In 2005, Corey joined Community Board 4, where he quickly gained the respect and trust of local leaders for his tireless work ethic and ability to build consensus. Corey volunteered countless hours in the community and worked hard to make Community Board 4 more responsive, organized, and effective. In 2011, after 6 years of service on Community Board 4, Corey was elected Chairperson by his peers, becoming the youngest Community Board Chair in New York City.
Chair of the Council’s Health Committee, Corey also serves on the Contracts, Finance, General Welfare, Waterfronts and Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services committees. Corey is Co-Chair of the Manhattan Delegation to the City Council with Council Member Margaret Chin and serves as Facilitator for the LGBT Caucus.
During his first year in office, Johnson was one of five Council Members with a 100% attendance record_. He passed legislation to protect vulnerable New Yorkers, expand civil rights for and safeguard the welfare of animals:
Access to Shelter for Survivors of Domestic Violence
Johnson’s first bill passed in the City Council, Intro 361-A, passed in November of 2014. It provides easier access to shelter for survivors of domestic violence by granting those who have already gone through extensive intake processes (which are required for the domestic violence shelters from which they are transitioning out of) presumptive eligibility for Department of Homeless Services shelters._ The measure was signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio on December 12, 2014.
Johnson authored and introduced two bills enabling transgender New Yorkers to correct the gender designation on their birth certificates, eliminating the requirement that they first prove that they’ve had “corrective surgery”.. Passed on December 8, 2014, this legislation brings the City’s birth certificates in line with modern standards by removing outdated and unnecessary surgical requirements for correcting a birth certificate. Johnson views this as critical for the vast majority of transgender New Yorkers who have inaccurate birth certificates; as surgery is not an option for many due to other health conditions or discriminatory health insurance exclusions. He believes that when you have an identity document (in particular a birth certificate) that does not match who you are, you become a target for discrimination, accusations of fraud, denials of service, and other administrative and logistical problems. His legislation aims to eliminate one of those barriers._
Pet Shop Industry Reform
Johnson worked with Council Member Elizabeth Crowley to pass a bundle of bills to protect animals._ The bills regulate irresponsible breeders by ensuring that City pet stores do not obtain puppies from abusive and irresponsible breeders and prevent overpopulation and animal homelessness by requiring that dogs and cats sold at pet stores be spayed or neutered, as well as licensed prior to sale. The bills also keep animals out of the hands of abusive owners by creating standards that potential owners must meet before obtaining a new pet, and require New York City pet shops to disclose information about the origins of the animals they sell.
Social Adult Day Care Center Reform
Along with Council Members Margaret Chin and Paul Vallone, Corey worked to pass legislation that created oversight for all of the City’s social adult day care centers. The bill requires all social adult day care centers operating in New York City to register with the City’s Department for the Aging (DFTA), and also requires those centers to adhere to State regulations. The legislation additionally creates a DFTA ombudsman who will take complaints – through a phone hotline and website – regarding a lack of compliance with these requirements._
Enhancing Workers’ Rights
Corey has put forth a wage transparency bill that aims to protect employees from adverse or retaliatory personnel actions by their employers in the case that they inquire about, disclose, compare or otherwise discuss their wages or benefits or the wages or benefits of another employee. _ Corey believes this is a critical piece of legislation as over 60% of private sector employees in the U.S. report being discouraged or prohibited from discussing wage or salary information. Such barriers impede any ability to pursue existing protections in the law for those suffering from wage discrimination. His position ultimately holds that if we as a society want to move closer toward achieving equal pay for equal work, then we must first protect the employees’ right to wage transparency.
Corey has also fought to strengthen protections for low-wage workers by co-sponsoring legislation such as the Grocery Workers Retention Act, which aims to protect the 50,000 New Yorkers who work in the grocery store industry. In a field that has extremely high employee turnover, these employees are often subject to unfair, low standards. Additionally, the constant turnover of employees creates a health risk as the proper handling of food is not always maintained by newer workers with less training. Corey believes this bill addresses those issues in that it grants a transition period to employees when the ownership of a grocery store changes which should, in turn, both enhance workers’ rights within the industry and consequently better food regulation compliance._
Pushing Back Against Hydrofracking Waste
Corey has long been an advocate against hydrofracking in New York. In November of 2013, he was arrested protesting both fracking and the Spectra Pipeline._ He put forth a bill in August of 2014 with Council Member Stephen Levin banning fracking in New York City to put protections in place for the five boroughs while the statewide issue remained in legal limbo_; shortly thereafter in December of 2014 Governor Cuomo banned fracking in the entirety of New York State.
Fighting for Tenants: Landlord Harassment, Illegal Hotels and the Rent Guidelines Board
Corey works to help constituents around his district with a wide range of issues. However, housing issues – particularly those that have to do with landlord harassment/disputes – account for an outstanding number of these constituent cases. He hosts a free housing clinic in his district office (224 West 30th Street, Suite 1206) on the second Tuesday of every month from 5:30pm-7:30pm. At these clinics, free legal advice from housing attorneys is offered.
The councilmember has also held rallies to protest to protest the illegal destabilization of apartment units, landlord harassment, displacement of tenants and unsafe working and living conditions. On September 14, 2014, he spoke out on behalf of Chelsea residents in such a situation alongside New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer._
Illegal hotels are another issue that has increasingly affected the people of Corey’s district. He expresses concern that constituents have been subjected to a constant flow of strangers in hallways and surrounding apartments, without the basic security that any hotel would provide. They have had to sleep every night in a building that violates basic fire safety laws. Given these realities, Corey has advocated through well-attended hearings at City Hall on the matter and continues to work alongside the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to crack down on the operators of illegal hotels who both violate the law and endanger the health and safety of both building residents and visitors.
Most recently, Corey has advocated for tenants in calling for reform to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, which continually raises rent on rent-stabilized tenants on an annual basis. Corey has therefore introduced legislation that calls upon Mayor de Blasio to reform the process for calculating rent increases at the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), as they currently use measure called the Price Index of Operating Costswhich overestimates landlords’ expenses by as much as one third. Corey’s position is that the RGB should use the actual numbers on landlords’ income & expenses – data it already has in the form of annual filings that many owners of income-producing property submit to the Department of Finance._
Legislation to Increase Oversight in NYC Correctional Facilities
Corey put forth legislation to increase the scrutiny of healthcare providers at all correctional facilities to help prevent medical negligence in the City’s jail system._ The bill would require health services in correctional facilities to release annual reports to both the Mayor and the Speaker of the City Council on the intake, follow up care, patient safety, preventable hospitalizations, preventable errors in medical care, and information regarding the evaluations of the performance of any contractor providing either medical or mental health services to inmates.
Safety in Youth Sports
A former high school football player himself, Corey has demanded change for youth sports safety in the City. He is the co-sponsor of two bills introduced by Council Member Steve Levin that would provide additional safeguards for young football players. The legislation would require teams to have trained medical personnel at games and full-contact practices in order to receive a permit from the Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as to establish requirements for a standardized concussion assessment. Additionally, the bills would serve to create a special Youth Sports Health & Safety Task Force to study injuries sustained in youth sports generally and how these injuries affect young student-athletes’ educations. Corey believes taking these steps would enhance the safety of young athletes in immediate and long term ways._
Early in 2015, Corey introduced a resolution with Council Member Rosenthal endorsing the Meatless Monday campaign. The resolution sites studies that have shown how red meat in particular has a carbon footprint similar to that of automobiles. With regards to health, it sites lowered rates of obesity, cancer, and diabetes due to cutting meat out of one’s diet._
As access to healthy food is one of Corey’s priorities, he launched the West Side Supported Agriculture program in Council District 3 in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. The program aims to supply community members with a bag of mixed fruits and vegetables from upstate New York farms at an affordable price, every other week. During its first season in the summer of 2014, his office supplied 604 food bags to constituents. The program is due to resume in the summer of 2015._
Let’s Talk Series
Corey has also worked to put forth office initiatives and programming that will grant his constituents tangibly louder voices in local government as well as their everyday lives: He has hosted three “Let’s Talk” series events, which focus on providing a safe space to gather experts on various issues and have a panel discussion driven by the questions of constituents. Thus far, these events have centered on women’s health_, affordable housing, and bike safety_ in New York City.
Corey is also a staunch advocate for participatory budgeting, a program he has implemented in his district for the first time that enables constituents to decide how they want to spend $1 million capital dollars from his annual budget._
Other Office Initiatives
Corey works hard to provide District 3 with critical services. This includes hosting free flu shot and paper shredding events, mobile pet adoption days and a monthly housing clinic during which attorneys volunteer their time and give free guidance on housing issues such as landlord-tenant harassment.