Phara Souffrant Forrest is passionate. That is not up for debate.

The 31-year-old maternal health nurse, daughter of Haitian immigrants, and lifelong Crown Heights resident has been an activist since she was a teen. In 2017, at age 28, Forrest founded the tenant’s association in her building to protest the conversion of the buildings units into luxury condos.

And she has not stopped fighting for tenants’ rights since.

Phara Souffrant Forrest is running for State Assembly. Photo: Phara Souffrant Forrest.

Now she is taking that fight to the State Assembly, running for 57th District seat against incumbent Walter Mosley, who has held the position since 2012. The district includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.

Forrest, a Democratic Socialist, said her decision to run came last year when she was arrested in Albany, along with 60 other activists, for protesting in support of tenants’ rights bills, and only one elected official, Sen. Dianna Richardson, stood up for the protestors.

“That was when I got very vocal about it and decided, ‘Hey, we can’t just have one person stepping up.’ There has to be more representation,” she said.

As a registered nurse, Forrest said she is acutely aware of how the Government’s failures are severely affecting hospital staff, patients and the entire community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she wants to hold leaders accountable. Forrest does home visits as a maternal health nurse, and said she sees the daily effects of systematic failures on our communities, with families living in dire conditions that badly affect their health.

“When we talk about having a healthy community, which is what a lot of legislators talk about, they cannot separate these categories,” she said. “When we talk about health justice, we have to make sure we have criminal justice, housing justice, racial justice, economic justice; all of these have to come together.”

Forrest supports the NY Health Act and Good Cause Eviction Bill. The two bills fight for universal rent control and Medicare for all.

Before COVID-19, Forrest and her team knocked on more than 21,000 doors. She said she was really feeling the support of the community–and the pandemic has only made her resolve stronger. She said the massive mutual aids forming in response to the crisis shows how communities know they cannot wait for the government, and are beginning to take each other’s health and wellbeing into their own hands.

“We have a  community that is aware and is woke,” she said. “We already know if we don’t do it for ourselves nobody’s going to come and save us: not a Trump; not a Cuomo; not a De Blasio.”

Forrest said she would continue to agitate the way she had always done and use her voice to push issues through Brooklyn and beyond, saying “we need to let grassroots groups all over New York State know it’s our turn.”

The elections for the New York State Legislature are scheduled for June, 2020.

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

Join the Conversation

9

  1. She has my vote. Mosley has done a lot of absolutely nothing since he has been in office. Time for a change!

  2. Forrest does not seem to be considerate or sympathetic toward those who are “working poor” or middle class who happen to have residences they lease that have less than ten units. Has she proposed any legislation or provisions that protect those who own properties that accrue expenses of a median of $3,000 to $10,000 a month and only gross earnings monthly of $6,000 to $18,000 in rent that are owned by “small landlords”? My father has severe Alzheimer’s and owns two properties, that entail ten units.

    1. I am managing the properties for my father His medical bills are roughly $6000 a month. I am driving for Uber and doing Instacart now, so I could try to sustain us (I am also a single parent). I can not continue to juggle all of these side gigs and parent, so what does she propose? I am a left leaning Independent, but both parties seem to not care about the “working poor” or middle class.

      1. Being a landlord is a business and investment like any other that comes with its own risks. Working class people pay exuberant rent prices in this city and are often mistreated and taken advantage of by landlords. I spent a whole month without hot water last year because my landlord didnt feel like paying the communal building gas bill and it got shut off for everyone. Progressive candidates in office have been fighting for actual policies to help working class people this entire time, and what did these same politicians whove been in office for decades do? Pass an austerity budget that cuts funding for healthcare, schools, and localities. We need actual working class people in office who care about more than just their paycheck and corporate sponsors.

      2. Jessica, I agree that your father should have to not face medical bills of $6,000 a month. Why not fund universal public healthcare that is free at point of service by taxing the billionaire class at the rate working class people are taxed? Seems like a much more reasonable solution than perpetuating the extraction of rents from those with even less financial security.

  3. Phara and Jabari Brisport are both great candidates! Isiah James is also running in Brooklyn for Yvette Clarke’s seat. Lets put some actual working class people in government.

  4. Phara Souffrant Forrest is the best candidate in this race and will fight for Universal Rent Control, Safe Staffing, NY Health Act. She has called for a cancellation of rent and mortgage payments so that working-class people can make it through this crisis. Phara background as a Nurse is with the working-class people and so it her policies. Read more about her platform on Healthcare, Decarceration, Climate, Labor and Housing at:
    https://pharaforassembly.com/

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