Agency founded by Assemblyman Lopez profits from federal housing subsidies

October 04, 2010 03:30PM

A housing scandal that left thousands of New Yorkers living in decrepit homes is proving to be lucrative for a not-for-profit group linked to Assemblyman Vito Lopez, chair of the state Assembly’s housing committee. Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, bought 25 abandoned buildings from the federal government for just $10, according to property records, while the feds gave $24 million to pay to repair the buildings, the New York Post reported. Now, the agency is getting federally subsidized rent from 100 apartments, plus rent from four storefronts in buildings scattered around Bushwick. In addition to the 25 rental buildings, the RBSCC, founded by Lopez in 1973, ended up redeveloping another 18 buildings into affordable co-op buildings, for which the not-for-profit received another $16 million from the federal government. “Outside of the Housing Authority, Ridgewood Bushwick is the biggest not-for-profit landlord in the neighborhood,” said housing Rev. John Pawis, retired priest at St. Barbara’s Church in Bushwick. Pawis, who has led tenants in the fight to redevelop their own buildings, said Lopez uses his political influence to steer all the projects to his not-for-profits. A spokesperson for Lopez said the award of the housing to Ridgewood-Bushwick had nothing to do with Lopez, who said he is no longer involved with the group. [Post]