Housing Update: Landlords’ Use of ‘Preferential Rents’ Draws New Scrutiny

Hope Gardens casita

Adi Talwar

One of the townhouses, or casitas, that distinguishes parts of the Hope Gardens portfolio from many other NYCHA developments.

Sign up for our Mapping the Future newsletter to receive housing updates—including the latest news, statistics, tools for tenants and homeowners and affordable-rental lotteries—in your inbox weekly. Here are some of the headlines from this week’s update:

From City Limits

As Two Bridges community groups wait for a Manhattan Supreme Court decision a proposal to build several massive, waterfront towers, some community organizations have filed a rezoning application with the Department of City Planning.

The New York City Housing Authority closed on a deal to transfer much of Bushwick’s Hope Gardens development to a private operator. The deal will bring in over $391 million in badly needed renovations and repairs.

Families makeup the majority of homeless people living in Bushwick. 1,039 of the neighborhood’s 1,462 shelter residents (71 percent) lived in family shelters in April.

From Around the City

The city is investigating top shelter operator Acacia Networks over alleged ties to a for-profit security firm, the Wall Street Journal reports. The nonprofit has received more than $1 billion from the city since 2010.

Gothamist has the story of a Brooklyn landlord who is being sued over alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act. The Housing Justice  says it has compiled evidence of the landlord turning away black tenants interested in renting in the Midwood building he described as jewish for years.

A Bushwick anti-gentrification group projected billboard-sized messages onto the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues subway station on Friday night to denounce what they call a dangerous potential rezoning in the neighborhood, the Brooklyn Eagle reports. 

The Third Party Transfer program, meant to take possession of “distressed” properties for rehabilitation, has instead been seizing millions of dollars in property wealth over minuscule debts, a report found. Brooklyn Eagle sums it up.

A group of Chelsea tenants is withholding rent after months of construction issues, Patch reports. “We feel like we are living in an abandoned house in the middle of Chelsea, Manhattan,” said one resident.

Tenants are reporting attempts by landlords to increase preferential rents beyond the legal limits, Gothamist reports. This year’s rent-law update prohibits landlords who charge significantly below the legal limit from raising rents in excess of the yearly guidelines.

The NYCHA complexes with the highest number of households with children under 6 have yet to be tested for lead paint more than three months after a new testing initiative began, the Queens Eagle reports.

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