Thursday, September 20, 2007

Report on Mismanagement of Mitchell-Lama Housing Including Roosevelt Island's Westview

Via Curbed and Roosevelt Island 360, Roosevelt Island's Westview housing complex was cited today in a NY Times article highlighting a report issued by the NY State Inspector General describing NY State's Division of Housing and Community Renewal's (DHCR)

mismanagement and lack of oversight at 80,000 apartments in 189 projects built under the state’s middle-income Mitchell-Lama housing program
and finding
“deep and systemic failure” to properly oversee the rapidly dwindling supply of subsidized middle-income housing has led to the deterioration of the buildings, an increase in rents and a waste of taxpayer money, ...
Regarding Roosevelt Island:
At the highly desirable Westview complex on Roosevelt Island, investigators found a troubling proposal to convert the building to market-rate condominiums. The Division of Housing and Community Renewal granted a proposed buyer a waiver in 2004 to manage the complex. By August 2006, 31 apartments in the complex had been vacant for about a year, despite a waiting list of 1,000 and a policy that “there should be no vacancies in subsidized housing in New York.”

It appears that the operator was warehousing the vacant apartments in anticipation of a windfall from their sale as condominiums. Nevertheless, the report said, an agency inspector “termed the complex’s inflated vacancy rate ‘satisfactory.’ ” The sale fell through in March 2006.
Here is a link to the transcript of Main Street Wire interview with DHCR Commissioner and RIOC Board Chair Deborah VanAmerongen. In regard to taking buildings out of the Mitchell-Lama program, Ms. VanAmerongen says:
The thing that I think creates a difficulty for this owner or any
owner in taking those buildings out of Mitchell-Lama is really the General
Development Plan – though I will admit that, being still new to the job, I’m still getting
up to speed on this and learning everything about what that General Development Plan
says and how it impacts upon the ability of the owner to take those buildings out of
Mitchell-Lama. But you may be aware that there are instances where in the City of
New York, and even outside the City of New York, there were Mitchell-Lamas that
wanted to buy out and because of underlying restrictions on the land – such as an urban
renewal plan, and there was a pretty big case over in Brooklyn with a building called
Tivoli Towers – and I’m not suggesting that the two are analogous, I’m just giving you
an example of the kind of thing that we’re thinking about – where ultimately, the court
said, “You can’t buy out.” And I don’t know that a court would say that here, and I’m
hoping we don’t get to the point where there’s litigation, but I think we need to look at
those things


Anonymous said...

I am a long time Resident of Westview.

People on this Island need to know about the fight we have here trying to preserve "affordable" housing here on R.I, the very reason this Island came to be in terms of residential buildings back in 1976.

Westview is still under the Mitchell Lama system and was thinking of doing a conversion, but it fell through. That was due in part to the last Greedy Landlord and potential new owner.

We now face a 14% rent hike by 9/1/09.

The last rent hike we paid never brought us the things it was supposed to like new elevators, etc.

The conditon of our Buildings continue to worsen, we have 360 apartments and our rents are almost 1,000 for a Studio, 1200, for a one bedroom, etc.

Westview is the MOST EXPENSIVE M/L Building in the entire State of NY.

The illegalities and conflict of interests are mind- boggling.

I want to know how it is Legal in NYS for the Head of DHCR to also be the Head of RIOC- our so-called "Public Benefit Corporation".

The Head of RIOC in her rhetoric implored us last year on 8/13/08 at the BRD that "affordability" was very important to them and DHCR.

Now, a year later, it all goes out the window.

The new owners are supposedly a "charitble" organizatin that fund Cancer Research and have a shark of a Lawyer representing them.

All kinds of rules have been broken in Westview, in terms of breaking M/L rules, NO Warehousing is allowed Ever. That is why we have internal and external lists.

There are tons of illegal subletters here, residents with primary residences in other states- those are grounds for getting kicked out of the Building.

The Task Force does continue to fight for the Tenants, but most tenants don't know what they are doing and that has been going on for awhile now.

There was a time on this Island when major news about the "WIRE" Buildings was reported on in the Wire, now, you never see anything on Eastwood- who is fighting sub-metering, Island House, who had a rent hike shoved on them in the Winter and now Westview.

All of this needs to be out in the open and transparent again.

There are lots of tenants in Westview, whose rents have kept the Buildings standing since it went up, who now stand to lose their homes.

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