The NYC affiliate of Habitat for Humanity is being accused of misusing $21 million in federal grants that were intended to renovate abandoned buildings in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
According to a report co-published by Propublica and the New York Daily News, Habitat promoted the properties it acquired to renovate as “long-vacant.” However, an investigation found that four of nine were still occupied shortly before the charity moved to buy them. Some of those deals turned rent-stabilized rentals into condos, leaving some former tenants homeless.
“Habitat-NYC’s Director [of] Real Estate and Construction speaks openly about making deals with developers, saying that we can not buy buildings from them until they get rid of all their tenants,” an angered employee wrote in a May 2012 email, which was provided to ProPublica. “We are spending federal money to throw low-income New Yorkers out of buildings.”
The investigation also found that with the addition of privately raised funds, Habitat spent a total of $43 million on the Bed-Stuy housing initiative.
Habitat said in a statement that “at no point were we aware that any tenant had been forcibly moved or incentivized to move out of their homes in properties we were intending to purchase. Moreover, we would condemn the use of any such tactics.” [Propublica | New York Daily News] – Christopher Cameron