By Gustavo Solis
September 1, 2015
For six years Ralph Padron has seen the tenants association of the city-owned building where he lives lose money despite the fact that retailers want to rent out the ground-floor commercial space...
The building, owned by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, is one of more than 150 in its Tenant Interim Lease program, which is meant to be a pathway for renters in city-owned buildings to become homeowners.
Tenants essentially lease the building from the city while paying below-market rent, in some cases as low as $300 a month. Tenant associations collect rent, submit financial reports, take care of basic maintenance and, eventually, the city converts the spaces into co-ops in which they can buy units for $2,500, according to HPD.
But the program is underfunded citywide. Many of the buildings are falling into disrepair and tenants can wait years before they become co-ops, according to Councilman Mark Levine.
“At the end of the day the city has not been adequately funding TIL buildings for decades,” said Levine.
“You have faced challenges on every front. Many of you have waited years — in some cases decades — for your buildings to receive badly needed repairs. The city owes you better.”
The councilman held a town hall meeting Aug. 26 where about 100 tenants gathered to ask questions of city representatives. Many of them came with signs that read, "HPD's delaying tactics: DEFUNCT," and "Where are the funds to rehab decaying TIL buildings?"