Letitia James calling for review into “corrupt” city housing program

The Public Advocate says the Tenant Interim Lease program is damaged

615 West 150th Street and Letitia James (Credit: Getty Images)
615 West 150th Street and Letitia James (Credit: Getty Images)

Public Advocate Letitia James is calling for an independent review into a housing program that allows renters to buy city-owned apartments for as little as $250.

The city’s Tenant Interim Lease program, which offers below-market rents in city-owned buildings with the understanding tenants will eventually be able to buy the apartments, is currently being probed by the city’s Department of Investigations, DNAInfo reported.

The department is looking into accusations that the coordinators of the rent-to-own program, who were charged with supervising buildings, would regularly doctor or falsify reports. There’s also allegations they failed to do site visits and that residents stole money from tenant association’s bank accounts. The investigation has now been underway for more than a year.

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James claims the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has not properly funded or managed the program.

“As our city faces a crisis in affordable housing, it is shocking that a city-run program is allowing hundreds of affordable units to remain vacant,” James said, according to the website. She said around 40 percent of the more than 2,300 units the program’s buildings are empty.

James will release a policy brief Thursday detailing her concerns about the program. It claims the program is “rife with corruption” and the HPD “has not adequately performed their jobs,” according to DNAInfo. [DNAInfo]Miriam Hall