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One Easy Change to Produce More Affordable Housing Units in NYC

In New York City, when Ed Koch was mayor, he had thousands of city-owned buildings that could be renovated to ease the affordable housing shortage and he did so. The next mayor, Rudolf Giuliani, changed the process. Beginning with the Giuliani regime, when the NYC's housing agency sued the owner of an apartment building to force repairs, the housing agency no longer foreclosed on that building. Instead it sells off that building's overdue bills so the city can recoup some of the fines and unpaid interest and water, sewer and other unpaid bills.




Stop selling off these properties. The whole process works through a trust which is financed by the sale of bonds to private investors. The trust collects payments and can seize the property if the bills are not paid. The city no longer owns the property. The property is in limbo. In a NYTimes article by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Kim Barker, it is stated that from 2010 to 2015, more than 15,000 properties with roughly 43,600 residential units were affected by these sales.




The NYC Comptroller, Scott Stringer, wants the city to foreclose on these properties and use the properties for affordable housing. The city's public advocate, Letitia James, wants the city to sell these properties' debts through a preservation trust to nonprofits, which would get the owners to fix these properties or take them over.




This could be done tomorrow if the city would stop looking at the short-term amount of money taken in by selling and consider the long-term amount of money that could be saved if people had a place to live rather than living in city shelters. And put people who are homeless first before money.

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