The development arm of Harlem’s most influential black church is losing city contracts over tax filings and audits it can barely afford.
Abyssinian Development Corp., owned by the Abyssinian Baptist Church at 132 West 138th Street, is now ineligible for $3.1 million in government funds, having failed to submit three years of tax filings and independent audit reports.
Rev. Calvin Butts, who leads both the church and the development firm, conceded the city was justified, and said the problem was dire financial straits. “We didn’t have money to pay for the audits until recently. We’ve even missed a few payrolls for our staff and have had to lay off employees,” he told the New York Daily News.
Butts warned the church might have to immediately shut down programs for the homeless and senior citizens.
“This is devastating,” said Harlem State Sen. Bill Perkins. “Abyssinian is an iconic institution. If they are not doing right, who is doing right? Are we talking about incompetence here or something worse?”
Abyssinian Development has built more than 1,500 affordable rental units in Harlem. It manages 2070 Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and is currently development Ennis Francis Phase II at 225 West 123rd Street. [NYDN] – Ariel Stulberg