Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New York City Following Up On Daily News Investigation Into Pols Getting Affordable Housing

New York City is following up on revelations first reported by the NY Daily News about how numerous politicians were able to obtain affordable housing without meeting program requirements. They're taking a much closer look at a Brooklyn Democrat, City Councilmember Erik Dilan and how he was able to get an apartment in a unit where the income cap is $114,000. Dilan and his wife make more than $160,000.
Dilan (D-Brooklyn) got a city-backed apartment available only to families making $114,000 or less while he and his wife were making $160,000.

The developer was a Dilan campaign donor.

"We take our regulatory agreements very seriously, and we are reviewing the exact set of circumstances and will follow up appropriately," said Eric Bederman, a spokesman for the city Housing Preservation and Development Department.

On Monday, the Daily News reported Dilan had moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn in 2008 when the income cap was $114,000 for a family.

At that time, he and his wife collectively earned about $160,000 a year, including his Council salary, records show.

After The News began looking at this arrangement, the Housing Preservation and Development Department asked the developer, Sergio Benitez, for paperwork verifying Dilan's income at the time he signed the lease. He was unable to provide any, officials say.
One has to wonder just how closely the administrators of the affordable housing program are looking at the applicants to see whether they meet the requirements.

Bear in mind that there is a constant hue and cry about the lack of affordable housing in New York. One has to wonder just how many people who are taking advantage of the affordable housing program are actually entitled to do so, which squeezes out the applicants who are truly in need and meet the program requirements.

It also shows that the lack of affordable housing needs to be addressed with not only building more affordable housing (that meets various program requirements, like Section 8, Mitchell Lama, etc.) but housing that is above the affordable housing program income limits because an insufficient supply is what is driving prices higher for everyone. Increase the supply, and the price will moderate and potentially fall from their current levels. Note too that the NYC metro area has largely avoided the massive real estate collapses seen elsewhere because demand remains tight as new housing stock is limited due to a lack of space.

Some real estate projects have stalled, and there's a push to convert those projects into affordable housing.

Increasing the supply will greatly increase the options for renters and prospective homeowners, and can serve to reduce rents at a time when many are opting for rents over homeownership due to difficulties in obtaining mortgages and uncertainties about employment.

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