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Months of organizing finally paid off for housing advocates on March 16, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development agreed, for the first time, to restrict the auction of a federally subsidized property to a nonprofit housing group. HUD agreed to transfer ownership of Logan Gardens, a 104-unit senior apartment complex in Harlem, to the city’s Housing Development Corporation, which then transferred it to CATCH (Community Assisted Tenant Controlled Housing, Inc.), a mutual housing group chosen by the tenants. Local activists and politicians have long urged HUD to abandon its practice of auctioning foreclosed properties to the highest bidders, regardless of their qualifications. In a now-infamous example, HUD sold a South Bronx development to a known slumlord, Emmanuel Ku, still a regular at HUD auctions. Eventually, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development hopes to purchase the HUD-held mortgages and create its own disposition program. In the meantime, however, with several auctions pending, it plans to pursue more restricted sales. [04/04/05]

-C. Feldman