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Less than two years after Mayor Rudy Giuliani advocated expanding the third party transfer program to solve New York’s affordable housing crisis, the city’s housing commissioner last week released the latest list of tax-delinquent apartment buildings slated for the housing rehab program–and it’s much smaller than in previous years.

The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development last week disclosed it will soon award 856 units of housing in 73 tax-foreclosed buildings–along with subsidies to fix them up–to for-profit and nonprofit developers looking to create affordable apartments and co-ops. Those numbers are down significantly from the more than 2,000 units in 86 buildings that were transferred last March in round two of the program.

Since the program began in 1999, city officials have increasingly touted third party transfer as the next big housing program, particularly as the stock of city-owned properties that has fed earlier programs runs out.

Following Giuliani’s State-of-the-City pledge, HPD Commissioner Jerilyn Perine told the City Council in May 2001 that the program would expand dramatically to rehab 6,000 apartments over the next four years.

But according to HPD spokesperson Carol Abrams, the recent slowdown has been unavoidable. First, she said, owners of tax delinquent properties that the city slates for third party transfer have been paying off their taxes at the last minute, removing those buildings from the program. Also, she added, the World Trade Center attacks disrupted Housing Court schedules, in turn disrupting the foreclosure and transfer process.

Because of those delays, the city says the next round of third party transfers–the fourth since the program started–will not take place until next year. To save some money in the meantime, the city cut $1 million from the program’s budget this year.

Despite the cuts, the city’s choice of developers is promising, says City Councilmember Bill Perkins. The city has greatly increased the number of nonprofit developers receiving properties, including eight of the nine in Perkins’ district.

Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, one such developer, says the 80 apartments they’re receiving will help HCCI transform a corner of Bradhurst. According to the group’s director of real estate development, Ben Upshaw, those properties are part of an ambitious two-block redevelopment plan that includes a day care center and 55 low-income co-ops. Says Upshaw, “The whole block will be revitalized.”

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