The Real Deal New York

Limited income co-ops accounted for nearly half of co-op delinquent tax payments: report

Residents “view themselves as tenants rather than as apartment owners," lawyer says

July 21, 2015 12:00PM

Low-Income Co-Op at 501 West 143rd Street in Hamilton Heights

Low-income co-op at 501 West 143rd Street in Hamilton Heights

Nearly one-third of New York City’s low-income co-op buildings are struggling to pay their tax bills — just one sign of their poor overall financial health.

The city has 1,000 low-income co-ops and more than 4,800 co-op buildings overall. But despite making up about a fifth of the total, low-income co-ops account for nearly half of all delinquent tax bills from co-ops, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Housing experts say that management in the buildings is too hands-off, and many buildings have failed to raise their maintenance fees sufficiently to upkeep the buildings and pay bills.

“They view themselves as tenants rather than as apartment owners,” said Steven Wagner, a co-op and condo lawyer. “They are not used to the responsibility of managing a building or running what can be a multi-million-dollar business.”

Some buildings, such as the 38-unit property at 401 West 143rd Street, are facing foreclosure by the city, in which case they would be turned over to a nonprofit and converted to rentals.

The 1,000 co-ops that still exist today were created beginning in 1981 from abandoned buildings seized by the city, as a way to encourage homeownership among the poor.

“Most of the co-ops are well-functioning, affordable housing resource for their shareholders, and they have stabilized thousands of lives,” said Christopher Allred, an assistant city housing commissioner for asset management. [WSJ] — Tess Hofmann