Stall in the Family

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Let’s hope housing agency boss Richard Roberts got a Franklin planner for Christmas. From hot-appetizer lectures to deliveries of cold cash, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development is seriously behind schedule.

In January, Roberts was supposed to host a soiree to introduce a newly restructured HPD. But he called off the speech at the last minute–just as he did for the original date in December. Now it looks like it might never happen. “If he is going to give the talk, it hasn’t yet been replanned,” his office explains.

But it’s not just the commish’s lecture schedule running late at HPD. The agency’s Neighborhood Preservation Consultant money has been stuck in limbo since last July, when 30 groups were chosen for the latest round of contracts. NPC, the city’s chief anti-abandonment strategy, pays nonprofits to act as go-betweens for tenants and landlords and keep an eye out for problem buildings.

The new $80,000 contracts have suffered serial delays, and the money has yet to appear. Without the funding, the new contracts can’t go into effect, leaving the old contract agencies running the programs month to month. “Our contract should have been up on July 30. Instead, I got a call saying our contract has been extended to September,” says Judy Orlando, executive director of the Astella Development Corporation, a Coney Island-based community development group. “Then they called up and said it was extended to December, then at a meeting they said it was extended until February.”

Nonprofits theorize that city officials fell behind in developing a way to handle the new contracting process, which has more stringent reporting requirements. Groups waiting for the checks hope that the new contracts will be available March 1, when the last round of extensions is due to expire.