UrbaNerd: Some Numbers on Abandoned Property and Affordable Housing

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New York mayor Ed Koch. The TIL program began during his first year in office, well before the Ten-Year Plan.

Bill Golladay

New York mayor Ed Koch. The TIL program began during his first year in office, well before the Ten-Year Plan.

In an article City Limits published Monday, reporter Abigail Savitch-Lew wrote a little about the city’s Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program and Third Party Transfer programs. Abby’s article was about community land trusts, one of the newish ideas that some advocates hope the city will embrace as it aims to preserve 120,000 units of affordable housing and construct 80,000 over a decade. Some see TIL and Third-Party Transfer as potential sources for land-trust properties.

Right now, however, the programs are also examples of the unglamorous, ongoing effort the city makes (and has made for three decades) to preserve housing options for people of limited means. Both involve properties that might be considered abandoned–by their owners, not their residents.

The TIL program (now revamped as the Affordable Neighborhood Cooperative Program) launched in 1978 to provide the tenants of buildings abandoned by their landlords an opportunity to form cooperatives and buy their buildings from the city for $250 a unit. There are 154 buildings in the city’s TIL pipeline, with roughly 2,400 residential units—some 1,730 of them occupied. According to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), 24 buildings (with a total of 409 units) have become limited equity cooperatives under the program in the past five years.

Under the Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, the city transfers severely distressed, tax-delinquent properties to new “responsible owners.” Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan promises to ramp up the use of the TPT program and to transfer more properties to non-profits. Under Third Party Transfer, the city has financed 36 buildings with 771 units since January 2014. Six of those, with 178 units, have elected to become limited equity coops. More could be coming: The city has done another round of in rem tax foreclosures since January 2014 and if the debts aren’t resolved another batch of properties could be sent to the Third Party Transfer program in the fall of 2017.

-with reporting by Abigail Savitch-Lew