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The city’s new housing commissioner told a City Council committee last week that he will move ahead “rapidly” with several stalled housing initiatives–he just wasn’t exactly sure when the new era of rapidity would begin.

As he testified before the council’s finance committee during budget hearing last Thursday, Commissioner Richard Roberts of the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development was asked the following questions–and gave the following answers to the councilmembers and City Limits:

When does Roberts plan to spend the $8.5 million in lead abatement funds that have been sitting in the city’s coffers for a year? “We’re working on it….we’re taking the issue very seriously.”

When will the long overdue “early warning system,” which is supposed to aid the agency in identifying landlords on the verge of abandoning their buildings, come on line? “I will stick to the public statements we’ve already made on this issue….by the end of the summer.”

When will Roberts implement the first transfers of recently tax-foreclosed buildings to nonprofit groups in Central Brooklyn, Harlem and the South Bronx? “I can’t really say…probably by the end of the year.”

When will he grant City Limits the face-to-face interview he promised shortly before he was appointed commissioner five months ago? “I don’t know. You’ll have to wait–along with the New York Times….You certainly were very nice to the last commissioner.”

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