Responding to Mayor’s Call for Distressed Housing Seizures

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, center, and City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., to his left, on Nov. 28, asking the federal, state and city to investigate the city’s Third Party Transfer program. (Photo by Stephen Witt via Kings County Politics)

In his state of the city address on Jan. 10, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would seize more than 40 of the city’s most distressed multiple dwelling buildings annually, and “put them in the hands of a community nonprofit that will treat tenants with the respect they deserve.” The announcement came on the heels of one a few weeks earlier, Stephen Witt and Kelly Mena note in Kings County Politics, in which de Blasio announced a new Neighborhood Pillars program, in which the city will subsidize pre-qualified nonprofits to purchase 7,500 rent-stabilized and unregulated buildings – many of which are smaller properties with three or more units.

In recent months, Kings County Politics has documented through extensive coverage the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Third Party Transfer program (TPT), which has seized “black- and brown-owned completely paid off properties under the guise of being ‘distressed’ and given to pre-qualified nonprofits.”

City Council member Robert Cornegy, Jr., who chairs the City Council’s Housing Committee and last November, along with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called for a federal, state and city investigation of TPT seizures, worries over the mayor’s plans.

“After my experience with last year’s transfer of over sixty properties through TPT, I have serious doubts about the administration’s ability to competently identify ‘distressed’ properties. While I support the goal of improving protections for tenants, I cannot support expanding a policy that has already proven deeply problematic for black and brown homeowners,” said Cornegy.

“For black and brown communities, homeownership is one of the only ways to build and transfer wealth from one generation to the next.”

Go to Kings County Politics to read about one mistaken seizure that Cornegy cited, and to read some of the earlier coverage by Kings County Politics of problems with the TPT program.

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