DEMOCRAT FOR STATE ASSEMBLY
Assembly Member for the 74th District running for Re-Election
State Assemblymember Harvey Epstein was elected to the New York State Assembly with over 90% of the vote in a four way special election in April 2018.
Harvey represents the East Side of Manhattan, including the neighborhoods of the Lower East Side, East Village, Alphabet City, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Murray Hill, Tudor City and the United Nations.
Harvey was raised in a politically active family. His parents infused in him a deep sense of obligation to the larger community. His dad was a union president for most of Harvey’s childhood, and Harvey witnessed how important the union was to his father. When the teachers from his school went on strike, Harvey, then a third grader, joined them on the picket line. His mother ran as a Democrat for political office numerous times beginning when Harvey was 9 years old. Literature drops, organizing events and political meetings were staples during those formative years.
Harvey has been a community leader for more than 20 years. He served on Community Board 3 for 14 years, serving as its board chair from 2002 to 2004, and chairing its Land Use committee for a term. During his tenure, Harvey helped preserve and create affordable housing for our community. A public school parent, Harvey is a former president of the District 1 President’s Council and former PTA president at the Neighborhood School (where his children attended). Harvey has engaged in numerous community struggles to protect low-wage workers, local day-care centers and diversity admission in public schools. He is a former Co-President of CoDA (a local political organization), and has worked on numerous progressive campaigns over the past few decades.
Harvey has been a public interest lawyer in New York City since graduating from CUNY Law School in 1994. He worked as a housing and economic development attorney both at the Legal Aid Society and Legal Services NYC. Harvey created the Legal Aid Society’s first economic development program. Throughout his incredibly effective career serving our city, Harvey has been at the forefront of critical economic development and housing issues; at the same time, he has worked tirelessly on dozens of pieces of legislation that have helped improve the lives of everyday New Yorkers.
For the past decade, Harvey has been the Director of the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center (UJC). During these years Harvey and his staff worked on:
- expanding language access to immigrants
- creating legal protections for tenants facing harassment
- creating the first voluntary and then mandatory affordable housing policies in rezoned neighborhoods
- expanding economic opportunities
- protecting small businesses
As a public interest attorney, Harvey has worked with thousands of tenants preserving and defending affordable housing as well as assisting small businesses and non-profit organizations that are engaged in community organizing and community building.
At UJC, Harvey was instrumental in starting Stabilizing NYC, a coalition of community-based groups from neighborhoods across NYC that came together to fight predatory equity and tenant harassment through community-based organizing. Similarly, when organizers saw tenants being victimized by unscrupulous landlords who used construction as a form of harassment, they turned to Harvey to help figure out the legal issues and to brainstorm solutions. Through their collaborative work, they created a citywide campaign called Stand for Tenant Safety, and worked successfully to pass 12 new laws benefitting thousands of tenants, which were signed by the mayor this past summer.
When Tishman Speyer purchased Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, there was a desperate need for legal assistance.
Harvey and his team heard the call and along with Council Member Dan Garodnick, activated a network of lawyers to assist thousands of tenants in the development with legal questions as well as to preserve their affordable units. First he set up monthly legal clinics, then established a hotline that helped resolve tenants’ legal problems. That hotline, created more than a decade ago, still serves the needs of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants today.
In 2014, Harvey was instrumental in starting the first statewide legal services coalition, which was created to ensure that the legal services community throughout the state had a voice in Albany. In addition to his leadership in creating the coalition, Harvey was elected its first president and has served in this role for the past three years. During this time, Harvey has played an important role in securing $100 million of funding for statewide civil legal services which funds attorneys for low-income New Yorkers.
Harvey’s efforts during his five-year tenure as a tenant member of the Rent Guidelines Board were crucial in successfully orchestrating the first (and second) rent freeze for one-year leases in the 47-year history of the Rent Guidelines Board. This historic achievement has helped millions of New Yorkers preserve their affordable rent stabilized apartments.
An experienced leader and advocate for the progressive movement, Harvey has been inspired to run for office to advance a progressive agenda in Albany. And he is up to the challenge. Harvey resides in the East Village with his wife, Anita; their children, Leila and Joshua; and their rescue-dog, Homer.