Tuesday, October 9, 2018
DeBlasio unfairly seizing properties
From Kings County Politics:
Mayor Bill de Blasio today defended the city’s taking of more than 60 properties in Brooklyn – including those of at least three fully paid off African American owned properties worth millions of dollars – and transferring their ownership for “re-development” to non-profit and for profit companies.
But New York State Attorney General Candidate Keith Wofford took de Blasio and the entire city government to task for incompetence at best, and illegal political corruption at worst, in seizing the properties.
“What’s happening here is disgraceful and likely illegal. Mayor De Blasio lives nearby and sleeps securely at night, while his administration creates anxiety and fear among vulnerable citizens whose largest asset is ripped away without compensation or due process,” said Wofford.
Wofford went so far as to call the foreclosure proceedings “unconstitutional,” and urged the Mayor to act immediately in stopping anymore transfers under the program.
The program that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) utilizes in taking properties is called the Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, which goes back to the 1980s when New York City had many blighted and burned out properties. The program designates qualified sponsors to purchase and rehabilitate distressed vacant and occupied multi-family properties in order to improve and preserve affordable housing for low-to moderate-income households.
Over the years the program has been amended in its definition of distressed properties, most recently in 2016, in which the City Council approved an expansion of the program to include buildings which are subject to Environmental Control Board (ECB) judgments as a result of building code violations in the amount of a lien to value ratio equal to or greater than 25%.
In order for HPD to obtain the foreclosure judgments, the agency sought, needed and received city council approval – an approval that some city council members now say they approved because HPD misled them.
The story came to light, when KCP learned the city foreclosed on Marlene Saunders, 74, a retired nurse, who nearly lost her paid-off and in pristine condition brownstone at 1217 Dean Street on a rapidly gentrifying block in Crown Heights.
The three-story brownstone had been in the Saunders family for 30 years and has been appraised at over $2.2 million. Saunders son showed KCP copies of checks paid and cashed by the city for property and water taxes, but were never applied to the property. He also stated the family knew nothing about the court proceeding, in which a foreclosure judgement was issued and only learned the family no longer owned the property through a flyer delivered to the brownstone months after they lost the deed.