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by on February 12, 2018
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Comptroller's report says Department of Housing Preservation and Development did not meet deadlines to offload hundreds of parcels by June 2017

City Comptroller Scott Stringer

The de Blasio administration has been sitting on hundreds of parcels of vacant land that could sprout 50,000 units of affordable housing, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said Monday.

A 2016 audit found that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development controlled 1,125 pieces of vacant property that were not being used to build affordable housing. At the time, officials countered that around 450 of those parcels would be transferred to developers within two years. That did not happen.

“We’ve come back two years later,” Stringer said in a statement accompanying the report, “and we’ve uncovered that the agency’s promises were as empty as these vacant lots.”

Out of the roughly 450 parcels earmarked for development, HPD has transferred just 64 to developers, according to Stringer, though the department said that all of them are already in the process.

After Stringer’s 2016 report, the city argued that many of the properties were not suitable for development and would be transferred to another agency. On Monday the comptroller said that just 54 were assigned to a different agency. HPD disputed those numbers and said that a total of 190 have been transferred to other city departments.

“The comptroller’s report misrepresents the facts and denies the very real progress made by HPD over the last four years,” HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement.

That leaves around 500 lots with no current development plans. Stringer maintains that the city is dragging its feet in getting them into the hands of builders at a time when rents are grossly out of sync with average incomes and the homeless population is near 70,000. At the very least, HPD should come up with a realistic time frame of how and when the properties could be disposed of, Stringer said.

But HPD said such a plan would be impossible due to the many challenges preventing the remaining lots from being easily developed into housing. Many are in flood zones, and while that does not exclude apartment development, HPD said that it needs to determine which ones would be feasible with extra resilience measures and which would be unsuitable.

In addition, some of the lots are small, some just two feet wide, or are otherwise oddly shaped in ways that could make them difficult to build on.

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Read More:

Final Letter Report on the Follow-up Review of the Development of City-Owned Vacant Lots by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development

NYC has done little to transform 1,000 vacant lots into affordable housing, says Controller Scott Stringer

Homeless NYC: Turning vacant properties into permanent housing

City Plans to Use Eminent Domain to Create Affordable Housing for Homeless

 

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