I was born and raised in Kampala, Uganda, and grew up in New York City after my family moved here when I was seven years old. I went to Bronx Science for high school, graduated from Bowdoin College, and now work as a housing counselor, helping immigrant families facing eviction stay in the homes they worked their whole lives to earn.
It’s a difficult job, but not just because I have to negotiate with banks that value profits over people or because it takes months to make progress on a single case. It’s difficult because every day I come face to face with the reality that all this suffering isn’t inevitable. It’s a choice — the consequence of decades of pro-corporate and pro-landlord policies in Albany. Our representatives turned family homes into investment properties while letting public housing fall into decay and disrepair. When people are drowning, they offer stopgap solutions like small grants and low-interest loans that do nothing for the vast majority of New Yorkers struggling with housing insecurity. No matter how many families we’re able to help, there are always thousands more across Queens and all of New York City on the precipice of homelessness because of an unexpected illness, job loss, or emergency.
The housing crisis isn’t restricted to low-income homeowners either; it’s impacting renters too. Half of all tenants in Astoria are spending a third or more of their income on rent. I spend more than half of my paycheck on rent, just like a quarter of my neighbors. Yet our landlords can refuse to renew our leases, evict us without good cause, and raise our rents whenever they like to prices we can’t afford to pay.
I am running for State Assembly because it’s time to guarantee housing to all New Yorkers as a right, regardless of ability to pay. It’s time to desegregate our schools, fully eliminate cash bail, ban solitary confinement, fund and fix the MTA, end workplace discrimination, and fight for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice for the many, not the few.
This election isn’t about a single candidate — it’s about a movement. As a democratic socialist, I know that we’ll never win the rights we all deserve - rights to healthcare, housing, education, nutrition, childcare, and public power - without a grassroots movement of the working class rising up to demand them. Another world is possible, but only if we fight for it together.