Maybe things have now changed – or maybe that's naïve – but regardless, the damaging past of the Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) needs to be corrected with significantly more oversight.
Public Advocate Letitia James held the agencies foot to the fire earlier this week when she revealed that a program operated under HPD is actually keeping low-income residents out of homes on which they put deposits. Sure, the initial failure was under the previous administration, but a total lack of oversight has allowed this continue.
Earlier this month, Comptroller Scott Stringer released an audit that revealed that the city owns over 1,100 vacant properties that could be used to create thousands of affordable units. Those units – 363 in Queens and 556 in Brooklyn – are owned by HPD and other agencies.
The audit also found that even when HPD was moving forward with its projects as planned, that nearly half of them did not meet stated timelines. In fiscal year 2014, 40 percent of properties deemed vacant by HPD had the date they were supposed to be transferred delayed by several years.
Maybe there are clear reasons for the lack of oversight, but little transparency has left everyone guessing as to what's really going on behind the scenes.
It's time for a full investigation to be launched into HPD's dealings, whether it's a publicly transparent internal evaluation from the de Blasio administration, or an investigation by a higher legal authority.