City probing housing program that sells apartments for just $250

Falsified reports, mismanagement by HPD among allegations

TRD New York /
Apr.April 21, 2017 09:00 AM

615 West 150th Street and Maria Torres Springer

A city program that allows tenants to buy their apartments for dirt cheap is under investigation for widespread mismanagement.

The city’s Department of Investigation is looking into allegations that coordinators of the rent-to-own program, who were supposed to be supervising buildings, would regularly falsify reports and not visit sites for months on end.

Other allegations include residents taking money from tenant association bank accounts and allowing squatters to live in vacant apartments in exchange for under-the-table payments.

The Tenant Interim Lease program offers below-market rents to tenants who manage the city-owned buildings, with the understanding that eventually they will be able to buy the apartment for as little as $250.

But an 18-month probe is revealing alleged mismanagement of the buildings, according to the New York Post. “Taxpayer dollars are going to this,” a former employee of the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, which oversees the program, told the Post. “It’s just such a waste.”

Sources told the tabloid that building coordinators who were supposed to supervise the sites falsified reports, and in one case, fabricating a report stating that a coordinator had been at a particular building when the instead was hanging out at Riverside Park.

“I’ve been noticing the same trend of ‘worked offsite’ continued to be entered as a comment on your timesheet . . . This is unacceptable,” Michael Besse, former TIL Buildings Supervisor, wrote in an April 2016 email obtained by the paper.

A spokesperson for the DOI said the agency is aware of the allegations and declined to comment. [NYP] — E.B. Solomont

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