Council to vote on bill to curb Mitchell-Lama cheating

After Brooklyn scandal, measure would expose waitlist-hopping

Jumaane Williams (Credit: Getty Images)
Jumaane Williams (Credit: Getty Images)

The New York City Council is expected to pass a bill Thursday that aims to highlight violations of the Mitchell-Lama waitlist.

The bill, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, seeks to shed light on how residents are chosen for Mitchell-Lama housing — coveted because it provides affordable rental and cooperative apartments to moderate- and middle-income families.

Selections are made from individual waitlists at each property. The bill would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to release an annual report listing individuals who were bypassed the prior year despite having been higher on the list than someone who was selected. Substantiated complaints related to such list-hopping would have to be reported as well.

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Williams said the initial impetus for the legislation was a hearing in February 2016, when he was chair of the council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings. At the time, he was dissatisfied with city agencies’ answers about the Mitchell-Lama program.

“I was stunned at the lack of response and the lack of information given to us,” Williams said.

Three years later a bribery scheme at a Mitchell-Lama development in Coney Island came to light, prompting elected officials to act.

In that case, three people were charged in May with accepting $874,000 to help people snag apartments. Brooklyn prosecutors alleged that the defendants — Anna Treybich, Irina Zeltser and Karina Andriyan — used the money to pay for Florida real estate, fur coats, handbags and jewelry. Last month, three tenants were charged in the scheme, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office announced.