Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mitchell-Lama Housing Trasparency Bill Passes in NYC Council

Transparency in City Housing is always a good thing.
About Mitchell-Lama
Mitchell-Lama Program

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials


November 14, 2019



 NEW YORK: Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams today passed legislation that would provide transparency to the Mitchell-Lama Housing program application waitlist. This reform measure comes after corruption was uncovered earlier this year in which bribes were allegedly accepted in exchange for altering placement on the potential resident wait list for the Luna Park Housing Corporation. The bill, Intro 716-A, is one of three sponsored by the Public Advocate which were passed by the City Council today.

"The housing lottery is a lifeline for many New Yorkers in search of the ever-decreasing and elusive affordable home, and the Mitchell-Lama program in particular has served as a vital component of New York City's affordable housing stock," said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. "Uncertainty and outright corruption regarding the process to access this housing is deeply damaging, and this bill is part of correcting that damage and instilling confidence in the system people obtain affordable housing in a city that desperately needs much more of it. This may be a lottery, but that doesn't have to mean 'you never know.'"

Intro. 716-A, which passed overwhelmingly at Thursday's City Council Stated Meeting, would enhance waitlist transparency by requiring reporting by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development on whether any application is skipped over or removed, disaggregated by development. Specifically, the annual report from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development would have to include information on the following:

The number of unique applicants on the waiting list on the last day of the previous calendar year,

The number of waiting list applicants who were not selected for occupancy in the last calendar year and people who were behind those applicants on the waitlist but were selected for occupancy ahead of them,

The number of applicants who are veterans and qualified for preferential selection in the Mitchell-Lama development in the last year,

The total number of complaints about the waiting list received within the last calendar year, including but not limited to complaints about the wait list process and preference shown to applicants.

The report will be posted on the agency website and submitted to the Mayor, Speaker of the Council, and Public Advocate, and the law will go into effect immediately. As former Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings and as a tenant advocate, the Public Advocate has long been engaged in the preservation of and oversight over Mitchell-Lama housing and other affordable housing programs.

"New Yorkers rely on the Mitchell-Lama program for stable, affordable housing," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-prime sponsor of the bill. "Mitchell-Lama housing is a lifeline for many New Yorkers, including a large number of my constituents. Unfortunately, the current process through which New Yorkers obtain Mitchell-Lama housing is opaque and riddled with inaccuracies. I am proud to co-sponsor legislation with Public Advocate Williams, and the bill's passage will instill sorely needed clarity, transparency, and accountability into our housing lottery process."

"The last thing New Yorkers in need of housing should be dealing with is corruption within the housing lottery system," said Council Member Ben Kallos, a cosponsor of the bill. "This legislation brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the process. Thank you to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for identifying an opportunity to improve the system and working to make it happen."

Council Member Farah N. Louis, a cosponsor of the bill, said, "Truly affordable housing cannot exist if we do not do our diligence in making these programs equitably accessible. In a rapidly changing housing climate, we must remain vigilant of affordability programs like Mitchell-Lama to ensure that they fulfill their intended purpose - providing quality, stable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. I am proud to co-sponsor a bill that brings us one step closer to a city that works for everyone."

In addition to the passage of Intro. 716-A, the Council also passed two other pieces of legislation sponsored by the Public Advocate, including Intro 720-C, related to construction safety, and Intro 1550-A, related to educational diversity.