P.A.'L.A.N.T.E. is committed to expanding opportunities for low & moderate-income home ownership through New York City’s Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program. We are certain with clear goals, guidelines and transparency we may finally produce the right formula to successfully convert these buildings into corporations.
The TIL program, created in the late 70’s, was a visionary program that encouraged home ownership by setting up a process to turn buildings into Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) and enabled occupants to purchase their units from the City. This process includes establishing a board, holding elections, holding monthly meetings, proper record keeping, collecting rents, establishing and maintaining a reserve fund, and maintaining the overall structural health of the buildings. But due to flaws in program design and implementation, many never graduated to HDFC status and instead were transferred back to HPD.
For the 164+ buildings that never graduated, tenants have longed expressed concern to the oversight agency Housing Preservation & Development (HPD). Chief amongst those concerns was incorrect information provided to tenants about the purchase price of each unit, when and how repairs would be started and completed, the lack of financial and technical assistance provided by HPD, the use of checker boarding to decrease relocation fees, uninhabitable conditions and confusion over rent collection protocol at relocation sites, misplacement of rent-roll records by HPD designees, and the impact of attrition rates on the financial viability of these buildings. Also these building had no succession rights protection which meant that a family member living with a tenant of record who suddenly died would be evicted even if they possessed the financial means to pay rent. The reduction in revenue from a loss of rent along with legal fees to commence eviction proceedings impose overwhelming financial pressure on already financially stressed buildings. This all changed in 2014 when P.A.'L.A.N.T.E. rallied for a change in policy and succeeded.
On April 27, 2017, the NYC Council held a hearing in response to complaints filed against HPD in regards to the TIL Program and the poor living conditions that these NYC building residents currently reside in.
HPD and NYC had agreed to allow tenants to purchase their apartments for $250 originally. Through the years and many broken promises of repair, renovations and more, HPD came back to these tenant associations offering them the rights to their apartments for the inflated rate of $2,500.
During the hearing, over 100 tenants showed up in full force on multiple buses to support, stand up and give their testimony on the matter at hand. The public hearing room was not able to handle the incredible influx of tenants there to testify, it was only able to accommodate 60 people at a time, so 40 additional testifiers waited down in the lobby until they were able to be called in.
Members of P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. Harlem were both the hearing room and down in the lobby with the remaining tenants in order to keep everyone updated on the progress of the testimonials.
The transcript of the hearing can be viewed by clicking this link: [Transcript.]
Here are the highlights of the success we were able to achieve during the hearing:
1. HPD announced that they will now pay fuel costs for all 148 TIL buildings. This will allow tenant associations to have additional funds in their operating accounts to pay for apartment and building repairs. This will also allow repairs and improvements to be made faster, as Tas contract and utilize their own contractors.
With HPD paying for the fuel costs, they project that each TA will now have an average of approximately $24,000 per year to devote to improvements like painting, common areas, plumbing work, floor repairs and improving lighting in public areas to improve the safety for the building residents. HPD will continue to assist the TA with paying for major systems replacements and repairs, if the TA has insufficient funds in their operating account until the gut renovations begin in ANCP or MPLP
2. New approach to improving the TIL buildings while also making adjustments to the ANCP program to address resident concerns. HPD is working on 3 parallel tracks to:
A. Implement a new tenant based
collaborative planning process
B. Improve TIL Building conditions
C. Expedite and adjust the ANCP and MPLP programs
3. As part of the increased communication efforts, HPD will be sending a letter to every TIL tenant association stating their commitment that by the end of 2017, every TA will have:
A. “Roof to cellar” inspection done with a “snapshot” report provided after the inspection with a follow up meeting with the TIL staff to review the report.
B. A workshop with the HPD staff to discuss repair status, ensure TAs understand ANCP and the ways of HPD can assist TAs in meeting the pre-requisites for ANCP.
C. Collaborative plan, created jointly with the TAs and HPD, that outlines the TA’s preferred outcome.
4. Items in storage – a letter has been sent to every relocated resident who has stored items with HPD’s vendor reaffirming that tenants CAN access their property, and providing clear instructions on how tenants can do that.
6. HPD are currently reallocating Capital funds in order to repair roofs and boilers during the summer months.
5. Each testimony was given to the council for review whether present or not to testify. There were 25-30 people that provided their live testimony at the hearing!
7. Restructuring of the TIL operations: there will be an Assistant Commissioner that will focus on nothing but making TIL buildings coop-ready and repaired. Wanjiru Bila will be the new Assistant Commissioner.
We are now fighting for the City to allocate the necessary funds to rehabilitate these buildings and for an immediate moratorium of building transfers to the ANCP program. A TIL coalition has been formed to protect the rights of all TIL tenants. The coalition is represented by civil rights attorney Norman Siegel.