Landlords take low-interest loans, but refuse fixes

A city audit found that money loaned by the city to private landlords was not being used to correct violations

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli

A city program intended to provide millions of dollars a year in low-interest loans to private landlords is being exploited, an audit by state Controller Thomas DiNapoli has found.

The money is lent to landlords to make repairs and remedy building violations. But the city has found that in some cases, the landlords aren’t bothering to make any fixes, according to the New York Daily News.

For example, two Harlem buildings with just 31 units received nearly $1 million from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in 2011 to finance major repairs. In exchange, the landlord had agreed to fix all housing violations within a year.

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But DiNapoli’s auditors found 220 unresolved housing violations still on the books for just those two Harlem buildings — 1185 and 1189 Seventh Avenue.

Overall, DiNapoli’s auditors reviewed 34 buildings that received nearly $20 million in low-rate loans from HPD from 2011 and 2012 and discovered more than 500 open violations, including 93 that are classified as “immediately hazardous,” according to the Post.

“Families who rely on affordable housing were put at risk because there was so little oversight (by HPD),” DiNapoli said.

In response, the HPD acknowledged that it “can do more to ensure this (repair) work is completed as required” and it pointed to reforms in its monitoring practices. [NYDN]Christopher Cameron