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Mitchell-Lama Rule Amendments

Rule status: Proposed

Agency: HPD

Comment by date: December 17, 2020

Rule Full Text
HPD-Proposed-Amendments-re-Mitchell-Lama-Developments.pdf

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) is proposing amendments to rules which governs City-aided limited profit housing company developments (also known as Mitchell-Lama developments).

Attendees who need reasonable accommodation for a disablity such as a sign language translation should contact the agency by calling 1 (212) 863-6500 or emailing mitchell-lama@hpd.nyc.gov by December 10, 2020

Send comments by

  • Email: rules@hpd.nyc.gov
  • Fax: 1 (212) 863-5048
  • Mail: Julie C. Walpert, Assistant Commissioner for Housing Supervision, 100 Gold Street Room/Floor: Room 7L2 ; New York, New York 10038

Public Hearings

Date

December 17, 2020
10:00am - 11:00am EDT

Location



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Online comments: 31

  • David Tambini

    The managing agent of each municipally-aided mutual company shall post on a website created for each mutual company the following documents: (a) retainer agreement, (b) contracts for building services, construction and repair, and (c) all minutes from board of directors’ meetings.
    I oppose this rule change for the following reasons:
    1) Maintaining a website, will increase costs to the company.
    2) It is vague and does not specify who will have access to the website. Is it to be available to the public, shareholders only, HPD and shareholders?
    If it is available to shareholders, what are boards expected to do about confidential information contained in board minutes? For example, who is behind on their rent payments.

    Comment added November 28, 2020 11:57am
  • David Tambini

    Members and officers of the Board of Directors are obligated to ensure that the actions of the Board of Directors and the operations of the housing company comply with the Private Housing Finance Law and/or applicable rules and directives.

    I oppose this rule change because it’s unnecessary and meaningless. Boards of Directors are already obligated to ensure that the actions of the Board of Directors and the operations of the housing company comply with the Private Housing Finance Law and/or applicable rules and directives. Everybody who lives in a Mitchel-Lama building is supposed to follow all the rules that govern these buildings, not to mention the laws of the State of New York and the Constitution of the United States.
    This proposed rule is just plain weird.

    Comment added November 28, 2020 12:11pm
  • David Tambini

    The Board of Director must distribute HPD’s Bill of Rights and Obligations and must post it in a conspicuous place on the lobby floor of each building.

    I think this rule is unnecessary as all meaningful shareholder rights and obligations are contained in the occupancy agreement and legally protected by the possession of a stock certificate, in addition I’ve lived in a Mitchell-Lama building since 1968, I’ve read the HPD rules governing M-L Housing, I’ve been on the Board of Directors for 12 years, I’ve been president of the Board for 1 year and I’m a member of an organization that works to preserve M-L Housing but this is the first I’ve heard about an HPD Bill of Rights but I’m glad that the new rule proposes that we post it in a conspicuous place on the lobby floor because the walls are already crammed with things that the management company says we must post in a conspicuous place: the Elevator Inspection Certificate; a Housing Information Guide for Tenants and Owners; Procedures for Tenants Regarding Suspected Gas Leaks; Notice of Ownwer’s Requirement to Provide Smoke Detectors; Notice of Owners Requirement to Provide Carbon Monoxide Detectors; DOB Registration Number; Fire Safety Guide Building Information Section; Exterior Wall Condition Certificate; the location of the keys to the heating system; and the most recent addition, the Building Energy Efficiency Rating.
    I guess one more wont make a difference but we may have to apply to HDC for a loan to expand the size of the lobby.

    Comment added November 28, 2020 1:13pm
  • Miguel A Jaraique

    My question is :

    How can an attorney that represents the board be trusted with the results of an election?

    This is a conflict of interest as the board is the one that pays him.

    If the attorney is also working with board in the issue of Privatization, than he can make sure the votes are for the board that hired him, since:

    He will be the attorney that will handle all transactions for the board.

    He will be paid for all transactions and this money exchange compromises the election results.

    I was in the board of directors in a meeting at HDC made his feelings known in front of board members that ML is not a good program, that’s it the program doesn’t work.

    No way do I want Mr Bruckner to handle the elections or a board that’s made up of privateers.

    The votes should be counted by the people the live in the building and in front of tenants.

    In one instance , while I was in the board, the lawyer counted the votes at his house.

    No one saw him count them, no one was present.

    This should not be allowed.

    Lawyers that represent a board will make money in the privatization process. He will want to privatize as there’s a lot of money doing so.

    I don’t even trust HOD because we have complained various times about people not been able to count or see the votes and they have dome nothing to stop this process.

    Also there seems to be an increasing amount of ______ votes in the last three years in our ML building. No ones checks to see if these votes are valid.

    There should be some kind in ID shown that the person lives there and proof of signature should be shown.

    Anyone can vote by proxy without proof of identity.

    At one point we had 34% of votes by proxy.

    Board members and pro privatization groups were getting the elderly to sign the votes by lying to them.

    In one instance a woman who only spoke Spanish was told that the proxy vote was Pro ML , so she signed it.

    It seems like no one cares about moral and ethical issues in elections and ML has lost control of the elections.

    There has to be an independent government party that does the counting and collection of the ballots and counts them the same day, in front of tenants.

    Proxy voting should be minimal and not rampant. The person who voted by proxy should show proof and sign the proxy in front of an official and not a privatization group that lies to them. No way people should be knocking on people’s doors and collect proxy’s. This hurts the democratic process of the elections.

    There are people living in 3 bedroom apartments with one occupant. They’re holding their apartments in case privatization comes and they get to sell for a big profit. No one is checking on this.

    There are sons and daughters and their parents in separate apartments so that they can make money if privatization happens.

    The city doesn’t care and the city is hurting the ML program.

    There’s a waiting list that we never see updated that the Manager is suppose to update. It’s never done.

    This waiting list is another way that people can commit fraud. The city knows this.

    The list should never be handled by the managing agency or bleats members.

    I have seen less minorities move into the building. The reason is that minorities vote for ML , so if they can be vetted and find a reason, any reason to keep them out, they’ll not be considered.

    There should be independent board members from the city, and not one that has tenants in it. It’s ridiculous that a privatization board is only looking for financial gains and not for the good of the building.

    When you have people that belive they can make money, than that compromises good decision making for all.

    I’ve been very disappointed with the way ML is been run. No one cares.

    No one at HDC cares. They don’t listen. HPD doesn’t listen.

    Maybe , someone , who cares about the history of ML will care.

    Maybe someone that cares about middle class housing will care.

    We need your help.

    2/3 voting on house moneys is an essential part of spending.

    This is our money and to use the money for privatization is not just.

    If people want privatization, then they should move. If they’re not happy with the ML program, they should move.

    Please do not let lawyers who represents a board to be involved in any way with the voting process because it’s a conflict of interest.

    Thank you.

    Comment added December 2, 2020 11:07pm
  • Miguel Jaraique

    The ML Program is a life Saver for Middle Class People

    Some people like the RNA lawyer say that the ML program doesn’t work.

    It doesn’t work because of the idea of privatization. This ideology that people will become millionaires tempts people to cheat. Even the most moral, ethical person can easily look the other way.

    ML was made for the middle class to stay in the city. Period.

    It’s a great program that my parents joined 41 years ago. This program gave mom and dad an awesome place to live.

    HPD and HDC are not monitoring the program the way it’s supposed to function.

    There are repairs that need to be done. A leaky basement has not been dealt with even though HDC is aware it, proposed a loan , the loan was approved by a majority of the board and reneged by the next privateer board. It had already been voted on, to take the HDC loan. This is was outrageous to us on the board.

    The manipulation of the ML system has to be stopped.

    When there’s money to be benefited from, by privateers there can never be a just ML program.

    We need change immediately.

    A 2/3 majority vote on money spending is a start. I thank you for that as it’s my money been spent for the building to go private.

    This also a concern with those votes as I have outlined previously. These votes have to be overseen by the city, not organized and run by a lawyer, a board, etc.

    Descent people that live here have suffered thru this ML process of voting.

    Please realized there’s a finance gain in privatization for privateers, lawyers, etc.

    To stop the board lawyers from being involved and profiting from going private, an independent lawyer must be assigned in order for the process not to be corrupt.

    Many people don’t know the laws, many are elderly and they sign on any document that their nest door neighbor tells them (through lies) to sign in the dotted lines.

    Please let’s make this program independent of board intervention in voting. Money motivates people to do the wrong thing.

    Please help us, get together with us to make this program what it was intended to be: for the middle class, for those who want to move from their present conditions to a place where they can move their family and have a happy, awesome life.

    ML is a great program, it’s a program that has helped so many people live in a building that’s safe, and affordable. It creates a community atmosphere that I have seen little babies grow up to be young responsible men. Many of these young men have gone on to college because their mom and dads could afford it via the ML program.

    Comment added December 6, 2020 11:51am
  • Richard and Varda Rosenfeld

    Monday, December 7, 2020
    How living in a Mitchell-Lama development has benefited us
    The rent has been fair and affordable. We paid a surcharge when we were both working, and a decrease in that surcharge when we both retired. The affordable maintenance also helped keep the maintenance affordable for those of our neighbors whose incomes were low.
    Prior to moving to our Mitchell-Lama apartment, when our income was low, we could only afford a one-bedroom apartment in the private market, so our daughter had to sleep in the living room. Our ML apartment entitled us to a bedroom for our daughter, too.
    Because the Mitchell-Lama program charges roughly 20% of one’s income for maintenance, instead of 30% in many other forms of subsidized housing, we were able to save for our present retirement and enjoy cultural things in New York City, which helps New York City to prosper.
    We are able to also afford long term care insurance by living in subsidized housing which we would otherwise not be able to afford.
    One reason affordability was maintained was due to drastically reduced real estate taxes for Mitchell-Lama coops.
    However, in the interest of keeping the building well maintained, needed loans should be at the lowest interest rates available. Presently, 8 out of our 9 board members favor removing the building from Mitchell-Lama. They can expect to take a loan that is through a private bank at a higher interest rate than one through HDC because the HDC loan requires staying in the Mitchell-Lama program and a private loan doesn’t. This policy will hurt the very people the Mitchell-Lama program was designed to help, and choosing higher priced loans should therefore not be allowed in Mitchell-Lama cooperatives.
    Richard & Varda Rosenfeld
    St. Martin’s Tower
    65 West 90th Street Apt. 20A
    New York, NY 10024

    Comment attachment
    ML-Benefits.docx
    Comment added December 7, 2020 12:19pm
  • Jay Hauben

    In 2018, the RNA House Mitchell-Lama Co-op board held a vote to allocate $65,000 for the development of a feasibility study. The board told the shareholders that the vote was to get more information and it would not cost them anything. But in fact, the vote was the first step in the privatization process and the prorated share of the cost per shareholder would be over $300 or $25/month. The vote passed.

    One year later, the RNA House board held a vote to allocate $220,000 for the development of a red herring draft of a privatization offering plan. The same reason was given, that the red herring is only for more detailed information. Never did the board inform the shareholders that the cost would be over $1000/unit or over $83.33/month/unit and such an expense would put pressure on the operating budget. The vote failed. Had it passed, taking $220,000 out of the RNA House operating funds would have used up over 10% of the money needed for all the co-op’s operations for one year.

    Spending operating fund money for privatization process expenses is a drain and pressure for future carrying charge increases. This should no longer be allowed. Every expenditure for any privatization process should only be by shareholder assessment. I urge the HPD to put that wording into the final rule changes it makes this year.

    Comment added December 7, 2020 10:48pm
  • Arvind Garg

    I totally agree with all the above fellow ML residents, David Tambini, Miguel A Jaraique, Richard and Varda Rosenfeld. I agree that those who want their building to be privatized should first leave the program from which they have benefitted and now want to make profit on by denying others to benefit in the future. ML program was perhaps the most visionary housing program for the middle-class people with fixed income like me. I am proud to be a ML cooperator resident and would hate to see the building go private so that some can make money.
    .

    Comment added December 10, 2020 8:55am
  • carol kulman

    I agree that the attorney that represents the Board should not also represent the cooperators re: going private. I also feel that at this time during the pandemic that the red herring should be re-done with the newest realestate figures since it was started a hear and a half ago and prices have changed drastically. Also i think that no vote should be taken while this pandemic is continuing because everyone is not able to vote or listed to anything virtually and should some do not even have computers. This should be tabled.

    Comment added December 10, 2020 9:07am
  • Joan Levenson Cohen

    Testimony to HPD Rule change hearing – December 17, 2020
    By Joan Cohen, St. Martin’s Tower

    Thank you to HPD for addressing and revising regulations for ongoing improvement in defense of our developments. Many of them are welcome and we appreciate your attention to many details. As a shareholder of 45 plus years at St. Martin’s Tower, and a current board member, I offer these comments to extend the protections to our coops,

    HPD and HDC financing offers should be considered first in line

    We in the Mitchell Lama community think bragging rights are in order for the HPD/HDC forward thinking refinancing and capital improvement programs, which remain even in the face of our current health and economic hardships. In fact, there needs to be a much more assertive educational and informational marketing campaign to promote these programs as our buildings age and need structural repairs and upgrades.

    In our coop, the shareholders rejected the money to do an offering plan in June 2019. The board is now ignoring (unless pressed by individual board members) any other conclusion than to pursue private refinancing in order to allow future privatization. Our board claims that they achieved a majority vote of those casting a vote and therefore this entitles them to move forward on privatization. HPD needs to be more proactive in supplying information about its programs, but, on the contrary, has often been unresponsive to efforts to obtain information about their refinancing offers. Frequently, shareholders are unaware that these offers even exist.

    HPD rules should mandate that refinancing offers be marketed to every single ML coop in the city, and that an HPD/HDC offer be considered prior to any feasibility study or any other steps in the process to privatization or dissolution/ reconstitution to Article XI. City refinancing should be proactively promoted in the proud tradition of cooperative living and the sense of true affordability, community, security and diversity that ML coops represent.

    Boards must be obligated to obtain a refinancing and repair proposal from HPD/HDC and publicize it to all shareholders. If other bids are obtained for refinancing, boards must accept the most favorable offer at the lowest cost, which would provide the same oversight standard that HPD requires for all contracts. It would also prevent our coops from caving in to disadvantageous requirements imposed by commercial renters in order to qualify for loans from private banks, which is what has been happening in some of these negotiations.

    Amend the current rules:

    Exiting the program should require an 80% threshold and be financed by special assessment of shareholders
    This is the standard for all transactions under HPD rules, a standard appropriate to this weighty decision. As improvements in HPD rules have acknowledged in past revisions, our cherished principles of democratic decision making, usually practiced by majority rule, rightly should apply to day to day operations, not the option of breaking up this city asset into individual units to sell off for individual profit.

    (6) Proposed amendment: “The secretary of the board of directors ..not less than [two-thirds ⅔] four-fifths (⅘) of the dwelling units in such mutual housing company approved an expenditure of funds in a specified amount not to exceed $100,000 for the preparation of a written feasibility study…All initial and additional funds must be raised by special assessment of the shareholders, for the feasibility study, and all subsequent red herring or black book preparations and procedures.”

    Rescind the option to dissolve and reconstitute from Article II to Article XI
    HPD must drop the regulation that allows a coop to dissolve and reconstitute as an HDFC, referred to as the Article XI conversion (“semi-privatization.”) This has led to confusion among shareholders as to what options are best for the future of their coop. Article XI is not a solution to continue real affordability to Mitchell Lama current and future occupants. When it is included in feasibility studies, and rejected, privatizers feel emboldened to reject anything other than future privatization efforts. There is no requirement, subsequently, that shareholders then even take a look at the city’s offer.
    In a misguided attempt to achieve compromise, which has proved acceptable to nobody, HPD continues to cite Article XI over and instead of its own better financial packages.

    As the privatization debate churns, and the dissolution and conversion to Article XI persists as a pipe dream distraction, the building infrastructures decline and repairs are neglected, with the threat of increasing costs down the road when delayed, in addition to concerns about safety and quality of life.

    Improving how shareholders access information
    Section 3-07 of Chapter 3 of Title 28 of the Rules of the City of New York: If website access is not possible for some shareholders, provisions need to be made available for every shareholder to obtain copies of all minutes, amenities lists, as well as the documents specified in the proposed amendment.

    References to HPD Bill of Rights, HPD management training manuals, Private Housing Financing Law, Business Corporation Law, and National Housing Act should be hyperlinked in the online version of the regulations, so that they can be easily referenced.

    Privatization is an option, not a fait accompli.
    St. Martin’s Tower in Manhattan is one of the ML coops which has been
    debating the issue of privatization since its inception. People who were tied to the real estate industry approached prospective shareholders even before they actually moved into the development. Therefore, along with their occupancy agreement, shareholders were handed an erroneous “promise” that their apartments would be part of their investment portfolio which would mushroom in value far beyond the equity accrued from assessments, etc.

    That was incorrect then and it is incorrect now. It was in fact not part of the original legislation and only–belated–included as an option, not a guarantee.

    As shareholders we were in fact privileged to become living proof of an opportunity to live in a safe and truly affordable community, diverse and neighborly, while preserving the longevity of a city asset for future generations, secured by very substantial city tax subsidies, which are monumental in comparison to any individual shareholder’s investment (a modest purchase price, amortization and assessments throughout their residence).

    It should be a badge of honor for the city to defend its program of permanent and truly affordable housing for low and moderate income New Yorkers. It represents us at our best.
    This is the juncture where we can break with big real estate developer interests. It is essential to continue and enhance the resources allocated to Mitchell Lama coops and rentals, which are model housing programs for the New York families who are the foundation of our city.

    Comment added December 10, 2020 6:21pm
  • Jay Hauben

    The election by shareholders of their boards of directors is one of the rights granted by the Business Corporation Law. Such elections are a main democratic means of shareholder oversight of the actions of a board. Supervision of these election should be by an unbiased party.

    It cannot be ruled out that the corporation’s attorney is biased. For example, the RNA House corporation attorney has stated his opinion that the current Mitchell-Lama co-ops should not be preserved because in his opinion they are a drain on the NYC taxpayers. He would not be and there is suspicion he has not been an unbiased supervisor. In the last three elections where only he or his partner saw and counted the votes, almost all winners of those elections favored privatization. I oppose the HPD making an exception to its rules that allows approval of the housing company’s attorney as supervisor of board of director elections.

    Also, in some Mitchell-Lama co-ops, boards have become corrupted. A corrupt board will likely only hire a corrupt attorney. In order to try to avoid such corruption, the HPD has been increasing its supervision of M-L board elections. The HPD is now requiring supervision by HPD approved third party election companies.

    The HPD should not be making an exception in its rules to allow a non-third party, possibly biased corporation attorney, supervise the election. The exception could not be to save the corporation money because attorneys, like third party election companies, charge for this service.

    To safeguard a co-op from a corrupt election process thus stifling the little democracy shareholders have, the HPD should strictly stick with limiting election supervision to approved third party election companies.

    In the long run, it is my hope that elections will be returned to shareholder supervision by local co-op election committees as they were at RNA House for 50 years before the current corporation attorney took over the elections.

    Comment added December 10, 2020 11:53pm
  • Marguerite C Tomasino

    I would like clarification concerning the veterans preference. The proposed rules and amendments state the following: Prohibit veterans and their surviving spouses from using the veteran’s preference more than once for admission to ML housing so that the preference is used for the veteran to obtain housing and not as a tool for veterans to secure housing for others by multiple uses of the preference. Does that mean if I am currently living in a ML complex and I want to move to another ML complex my veterans’ preference would not apply? Also, what training if any, are you providing the management companies to ensure if someone states they are a veteran that they are providing the correct documentation? DD-214 is the proper paper work any veteran would receive if they served time in the Armed Forces. It will also indicate if they were honorably, medically, or dishonorably discharged.

    Comment added December 12, 2020 3:57pm
  • Marguerite Tomasino

    I would like to know if a family of 5 consisting of two parents and 3 children are permitted to live in a ML studio.

    Comment added December 14, 2020 10:07am
  • Sharon Torres

    I am the spouse of a deceased Veteran and want to voice my strong objection to the proposed rule change that would prohibit veterans and their surviving spouses from using the veteran’s preference more than once for admission to Mitchell-Lama housing. If, in the past a veteran used the preference to obtain housing for others, then it seems to me that someone (HPD, management, or Board) wasn’t doing their due diligence and why should veterans or their families be penalized for that.
    I want to bring your attention to the link: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/veterans/about/demographics.page
    The link is from the NYC Veterans department. If you look at the link, you’ll see that there are approximately 210, 808 veterans who reside in NYC. Out of those, 26.5% are on disability, and reading more closely, please notice that 29% of the Veterans served in Vietnam.
    We are talking about a small number of veterans as compared with the population of the city and HPD is proposing reducing this benefit. Really? I think that rather than taking benefits away from Veterans, HPD should be investigating ways to increase benefits for those who have served our country, especially during times of war.
    Additionally, there may be instances where a veteran would prefer to move from their current Mitchell-Lama because the coop has come out of the M-L program. The Mitchell-Lama I reside in, Cadman Towers, is attempting to dissolve as a Mitchell-Lama and reconstitute as an article 11 (aka 2 to 11). If this rule went through, I would not be allowed to use the veterans preference again.
    I have contacted Dr. Loree Sutton, M.D. Commissioner of NYC Veterans in the hope that she contact you about your misguided rule change.

    Comment added December 14, 2020 3:49pm
  • ADELE NIEDERMAN

    PLEASE SEE OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM CU4ML – COOPERATORS UNITED FOR MITCHELL-LAMA.

    Comment attachment
    cu4ml-Testimony-HPD-12-17-20-final.pdf
    Comment added December 14, 2020 5:37pm
  • ADELE NIEDERMAN

    Please see my personal comments. Thank you.
    Adele Niederman

    Comment attachment
    Adeles-comments-final.pdf
    Comment added December 14, 2020 5:38pm
  • Sharon Torres

    I am a member of both Cooperators United for Mitchell Lama (CU4ML) and the Mitchell Lama United (MLU) and fully support the ideas in the testimony of Adele Niederman (CU4ML) and Warren Harding (MLU).
    My husband and I moved into Cadman Towers in 2011. He was retired and I was nearing retirement. It was a perfect time in our lives to make a change. Never having lived in social housing prior to that time, we did not know very much about the Mitchell-Lama program. Within weeks of moving in, we learned that Cadman Towers had been engaged in a decades long bitter battle to “go private.”
    After being educated by pro-Mitchell Lama shareholders at Cadman, members of Cooperators United for Mitchell-Lama, and the Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama Task Force, we were completely sold on the non-profit housing model and joined the fight to stop privatization of Mitchell-Lama coops.
    Privatization was taken off the table at Cadman when shareholders voted down allocating additional monies to pursue it. I believe the monies spent on the privatization pursuit totaled $350,000 of shareholder funds.
    In 2014, The Board refinanced a loan with HDC but negotiated to be allowed to pursue “semi-privatization” (aka 2 to 11). Shareholders at Cadman were recently informed that we will soon be receiving a Proxy Statement for Article 11.
    It has been nearly 10 years since I moved into Cadman Towers. Since then, I have not had one day when the threat of the loss of Cadman Towers as affordable housing has not been on my mind. Given that, a shorter time frame on privatization and semi-privatization efforts would be welcomed, although the proposed rule change misses the mark on meaningful protection of Mitchell-Lama coops.
    I am grateful to the Cadman Shareholders who fought for decades to keep Cadman in the Mitchell-Lama program. I would certainly not have had an opportunity to live in this community had it gone private. Living at Cadman Towers has afforded me the opportunity of residing in a safe, affordable, friendly environment. I want that for the next generation of working-class, middle-income New Yorkers.
    If ever there was a need to preserve and expand not-for-profit housing, it is now. HPD should be doing everything possible to implement more meaningful rules to support this housing model such as those outlined in the testimony of Adele Niederman (CU4ML) and support efforts outlined in the testimony of Warren Harding (MLU).

    Comment added December 15, 2020 10:27am
  • John J. Raffaele

    I am writing in reference to HPD’s proposed rule change that would revise the Mitchell-Lama occupancy standards to ensure that they are gender neutral, which is something that my family has been championing for many years. 
    I moved into Cadman Towers in April of 2013 with my wife and daughter. The following summer, in June of 2014, when our second daughter was born, we were disappointed to find out that we were not eligible for a three bedroom apartment because our children were “same sex.” We knew a number of young families in Cadman Towers and other Mitchell-Lama developments that lived in three bedroom apartments with two children of “opposite sex.” It was incomprehensible that our family was being unfairly discriminated against on the basis of binary notions of gender. We reached out countless times by both phone and email to members of our Board, building management from Tudor Realty, HPD, and ultimately even our local Councilman to see what could be done to bring about change. No one was willing to help us take up this cause. 
    Needless to say, a rule change is long overdue. However the specific rule change proposed by HPD does not go far enough because it makes no effort to repair the inequities persisting on current waitlists created by decades of flawed policy. In a world where we now know that all people of all ages have the right to choose and define their own identity, it is simply wrong to impose an antediluvian policy of forced cohabitation based on yesterday’s backward interpretation of binary sexuality as defined by others. It was only this past summer, upon the birth of our third child, that we finally became “eligible” for the Cadman Tower’s three bedroom list. We are told that we are currently in the sixth position on that list, behind many families whose second child was born years after ours and who were placed ahead of us only because a systemically discriminatory rule left us out. 
    While I commend the HPD’s long overdue awakening, unless current waitlists are corrected to reflect proper ordering based on gender neutral household eligibility dates, families like mine, who should have been placed on their respective waitlists many years – or in some cases decades – ago, will continue to wait idly behind other list slot holders who may have birthed their second child only months ago. Years can pass before even one apartment opens on some of these lists. In some cases deserving families will be refused their rightful apartment size until their children are fully reared. Unless HPD acts swiftly to enact a new rule that revises occupancy standards to ensure that they are gender neutral and corrects current waitlists to reflect chronologically accurate, gender neutral eligibility, it will continue to fail its mission to provide equal rights housing opportunities for all New Yorkers. 

    Comment added December 15, 2020 2:38pm
  • Warren Harding

    Please see attached statement from Mitchell-Lama United (MLU)

    Comment attachment
    MLU-Testimony-to-HPD.pdf
    Comment added December 16, 2020 3:24pm
  • Jay Hauben

    Please see my personal comments in the attached file. Thank you.
    Jay Hauben

    Comment attachment
    Jay-Hauben-Comments-on-HPD-2020-rule-changes.docx
    Comment added December 16, 2020 4:00pm
  • Dianne Harris

    I am not in favor of the rule changes because there is still no transparency for the shareholders. It feels as if we are being setup to be privatized based on the information from management and attorneys.

    Comment added December 16, 2020 4:25pm
  • Mary Foutz

    Section 2 of the rule proposal amends 28 RCNY 3-07(e)(1).

    This amendment adds the requirement that HPD shall order the removal of a building employee who violates these rules and the PFHL. This is certainly a necessary addition to the rules, as building employees can, and undoubtedly have, sometimes taken advantage of their positions for fraudulent or corrupt purposes.

    A question arises because of the Statement of Basis for this amendment, where it states that employees are also to be removed who have “otherwise failed to act in the best interests of the housing company.” That language appears nowhere in the amendment itself.

    It must also be questioned whether HPD can order the removal of an employee who is protected by a union contract. This amendment should be revised to recognize that the power to order removal must be subject to any union grievance rights of the employee.

    Section 4 of the rule proposal amends 28 RCNY 3-14(d) by addding a new paragraph (9).

    This requires the Board of Directors to ensure that the actions & operations of the housing company are in accord with the PFHL and the rules thereunder.

    But the housing company itself is already required to comply with these directives, and since the Board is the body that operates the housing company, this amendment seems to be pure surplusage.

    The only reason there can be to add this amendment is to provide for penalties against individual board members. The amendment must be revised to state (1) a process by which such violations are brought to the attention of the HPD, and (2) the imposition of a clear penalty against individual directors for any such violations.

    It should be noted that Section 32(6) of the PFHL already authorizes HPD to remove any or all directors who violate the PFHL. Whatever penalties are to be created by the present amendment must be in addition to, not in replacement of, the removal of the violating directors.

    Section 4 of the rule proposal also amends 28 RCNY 3-14(h)(2) by adding a new subparagraph (i).

    This amendment authorizes HPD to approve all “election documents”, used in elections at Mitchell-Lama cooperatives. This seems to be a reasonable addition to the duties of the HPD.

    However, it need to be clearly stated in subparagraph (i) that HPD’s powers deal only with election documents issued by the housing company itself. HPD has no power to censor any flyers or signs put up by individual cooperators or groups of cooperators expressing their own opinions about the subject of the election.

    Section 5 of the rule proposal amends 28 RCNY 3-16(c) by adding a new paragraph (6).

    The new paragraph (6) states that HPD is “authorized” to require removal of an employee of the managing agent who violates the PHFL or regulations thereunder.

    As discussed above concerning Section 2 of the rule proposal, there is no question that employees of the managing agent are in a position to fraudulently or corruptly misuse their position with the housing company.

    But the amendment does not go far enough. First, HPD must be required, not just authorized, to remove such employee. Section 3-07(e)(1) uses the language “shall require the housing company to remove” the offending employee. The same mandatory language must be used in this paragraph (6)

    Secondly, this paragraph deals only with managing company employees actually working onsite at the housing company. But the opportunities for fraudulent and corrupt violation of the governing law and regulations are just as real and just as pernicious when the violations are performed at a remote location. Most managing companies do a great deal of the work of the housing company at these remote locations, whether the headquarters of the managing company or elsewhere.

    Therefore the paragraph must be revised to include all managing company employees who handle work for the housing company.

    A third defect appears in the Statement of Basis for this amendment, where it states that employees are also to be removed who have “otherwise failed to act in the best interests of the housing company.” That language appears nowhere in the amendment itself.

    Comment added December 16, 2020 7:35pm
  • Deborah Schroer

    I purchased my co-op apartment in St Martins Towers in May 2016. I am so grateful for the wonderful New York City life that the Mitchell Lama program has made possible for me and my family. However I have been disappointed by the lack of transparency and outraged at the lack of accountability by our Board of Directors. During my short time as a resident I have spoken with directors who have not read the co-op’s By-Laws and who are ignorant of the Mitchell Lama rules. This is inexcusable. There have been two instances in which the board or a board member have been discovered violating the by-laws. I applaud the proposed amendments that toughen the standards of disclosure and enforcement of the rules.
    I am very concerned by the efforts by some to reconstitute Mitchell Lama co-ops as private or Article XI corporations. As a New York State tax payer for 43 years I have subsidized the creation and maintenance of affordable housing for my fellow New Yorkers. I deeply oppose the attempt to abscond with the equity created by millions of tax dollars by those who have enjoyed the benefits of affordable housing. This is an outrageous case of wanting to eat your cake and have it too! I estimate that my building has enjoyed over $60 million of taxpayer provided benefits which current owners believe should be put into their pockets when they sell out.
    In addition to the current proposal I call on HPD to toughen the requirements for reconstitution in the following manners:
    1. Raise the threshold for a feasibility study, offering plan, or notice of intent to 80% of dwelling units, in line with the requirements for other housing programs. Dwelling units must include vacancies to discourage the warehousing of empty units that has occurred in several recent conversions.
    2. Require that all reconstitution actions be funded by a special assessment rather than operating budgets. Our shareholders were told that the feasibility study and offering plan would be paid out of operating funds, and thus would not cost them anything. That was money that should have been used for important maintenance work and improvements.
    Thank you for your work preserving and increasing the supply of affordable housing for New Yorkers like me.

    Deborah Schroer
    St. Martins Tower
    65 W 90th St. Apt 13A
    New York, NY 10024

    Comment added December 16, 2020 9:42pm
  • Katy Bordonaro

    Veterans Preference
    The Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition opposes the proposed rule change on veterans preference.
    The proposed rule would limit a veteran or surviving spouse to one use of this preference in the couple’s lifetime.
    Given the many uncertainties facing Mitchell-Lama residents, this proposed rule seems unusually cruel and does not honor the patriotic service provided the nation by the veterans.
    Here are some examples of situations in which a veteran might need to exercise veterans preference more than once. First, let us consider a veteran or surviving spouse living in a rental Mitchell-Lama built after January 1, 1974. That development leaves the program. Because of the date of construction, the apartments are not rent-stabilized and go to market-rate. The veteran or surviving spouse cannot afford the new rent and want to apply to another Mitchell-Lama and exercise their veterans preference but cannot because they had already used their veterans preference.
    Second, let us consider a veteran or surviving spouse living in a rental Mitchell-Lama. They would like to move to a Mitchell-Lama co-op with a long waiting list. Part of the reason for their move is to enhance the stability of their housing since it is harder for a co-op to leave the program than it is for a rental. They, however, cannot use their veterans preference for this move because they used it to gain admission to the rental Mitchell-Lama.
    Third, let us consider a veteran or surviving spouse living in a Mitchell-Lama co-operative which is contemplating leaving the program. They would like to move to a Mitchell-Lama co-op with a long waiting list but they know that that co-op is committed to staying in the program. They, however, cannot use their veterans preference for this move because they used it to gain admission to the original Mitchell-Lama.
    Finally, let us consider a veteran or surviving spouse living is a Mitchell-Lama building. One member of the couple has become increasingly disabled and can no longer manage in their current apartment. They identify another Mitchell-Lama with better accessibility but a long waiting-list and would like to move there. They, however, cannot use their veterans preference for this move because they used it to gain admission to the original Mitchell-Lama.
    Given these considerations, MLRC urges NYC HPD to withdraw this rule change. We will be submitting our testimony to the NYC Department of Veterans Affairs as well.
    Katy Bordonaro
    Corresponding Secretary
    Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition

    Comment attachment
    2020.12-Response-to-HPD-proposed-rules-changes.docx
    Comment added December 16, 2020 10:45pm
  • Jay Hauben for 31 NA House Shareholder/Cooperators

    Please see comments sent by 31 RNA House Slaveholder/ Cooperators to the HPD in the attached file. Thank you.

    Comment attachment
    31-RNA-Cooperators-Comment.docx
    Comment added December 16, 2020 11:43pm
  • Zezlie L Blyden

    Zezlie Blyden, St. James Towers

    I am a member of both Cooperator United for Mitchell Lama {CU4ML} and Mitchell Lama United {MLU} advocating to protect and preserve not-for-profit housing.
    I moved into St. James Towers with my 15 yr. old son in 1997. Thrilled to be called off the waiting list, moving into affordable and safe housing. The peaceful community of St. James shareholders changed, when the Mortgage was paid off, and the board started advocating for privatization. St. James spent nearly $100,000 for a Feasibility Study, but the Offering Plan was voted down in 2017. The Board resist any HDC financing for Capital Projects, with the hope to continue their pursuit of privatization.

    I support the recommendations in the testimony of Adele Niederman {CU4ML} and Warren Harding {MLU} to protect and preserve not-for-profit affordable housing. I’m requesting HPD to consider:

    — Raising the voting requirement from 67% to 80% for any vote on
    Dissolution or Reconstitution.
    — Enact a Moratorium on Privatization and Semi-privatization spending, votes, and other activities for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
    — All funding for Privatization should be funded by Special Assessments, and not from the Operating Budget.
    — Removal of HPD Semi-privatization option { Article 2 to 11 conversions}. These conversions would make Mitchell Lama housing unaffordable for Low-and moderate income families.

    It’s imperative that HPD rules and policies support and protect affordable Mitchell Lama housing.

    Comment added December 17, 2020 4:27am
  • Zezlie L Blyden

    Zezlie Blyden, St. James Towers

    I am a member of both Cooperator United for Mitchell Lama {CU4ML] and Mitchell Lama United {MLU} advocating to protect and preserve not-for-profit housing.
    I moved into St. James Towers with my 15 yr. old son in 1997. Thrilled to be called off the waiting list, moving into affordable and safe housing. The peaceful community of St. James shareholders changed, when our Mortgage was paid off and the board starting advocating for privatization. St. James spent nearly $100,000 for a Feasibility Study, but the Offering Plan was voted down in 2017. The Board resist any HDC financing for Capital Projects, with the hope to continue their future pursuit of privatization.
    I support the recommendations in the testimony of Adele Niederman {CU4ML} and Warren Harding {MLU} to protect and preserve not-for-profit affordable housing. I’m requesting HPD to consider:

    — Raising the voting requirement from 67% to 80% for any vote on Dissolution or Reconstitution.
    — Enact a Moratorium on Privatization and Semi-privatization spending, votes, and any other activities for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
    — All funding for Privatization should be funded by Special Assessments, and not from the Operating Budget.
    — Removal of HPD Semi-privatization option { Article 2 to 11 conversions}. These conversions would make Mitchell Lama housing unaffordable for low- and moderate income families.

    It’s imperative that HPD rules and policies support and protect affordable Mitchell Lama housing.

    Comment added December 17, 2020 9:10am
  • Grace Miller

    Rules to remove Housing Company employees and rules to obligate members and officers of the Board of Directors to comply with the Private Housing Finance Law as well as HPD rules and HPD directives, are fine if HPD enforces rules and regulations. If there are no consequences to Board members who break the rules or don’t follow HPD directives, HPD rules are useless.
    I live in Dayton Beach Park #1 Corp and we haven’t had board elections in the past 3 years (nor have we had valid elections in the past 6+ years). As a result we have unelected Board members making financial decisions. We, the shareholders, have no idea of the Co-op’s financial situation as we haven’t received Audited financial statement in the past 2 years. When we did receive the financials we weren’t allowed to ask the Accountants any questions. That’s several rules broken, and nothing is being done by HPD.
    Let’s review this rule: Authorize HPD to approve the housing company’s attorney as an alternative election monitor.
    Did I mention that we haven’t had an election at Dayton Beach Park #1 Corp in the past 3 years or a valid election for 6+ years. For years shareholders were sending emails to HPD about the election process and problems which were happening. HPD told us they won’t get involved in our elections and if we’re not happy to vote the existing board out. That was great advice.
    After a DOI investigation and HPD having to process a shareholder audit, (as the shareholder list being sent to the Ballot Company for years was not accurate); HPD gave the board a mandate or be removed and what did the board do? The Board had the Corporate attorney submit an article 78 on their behalf against HPD. Corporate attorneys should not be involved as an alternative election monitor as they receive direction from the board, this is a conflict of interest and will create even more problems.

    There was a time when we thought that HPD was overseeing the boards on behalf of the shareholders; but that is a misnomer; HPD protects the boards and turns their backs on the Shareholders.

    Comment added December 17, 2020 10:04am
  • Kimberly Ellis-Rogers

    I am a member of CU4ML(Cooperatives United for Mitchell Lama) and MLUnited (Mitchell Lama United). I fully support the proposals presented by Adele Niederman (CU4ML) and Warren Harding (ML United). I am also a resident of Rivercross, a former ML Co-op which to its demise went private in 2014. Ever since our building went private, only ONCE have we met the financial projection/ min. required number apartments to be sold. EVERY year since we have been private we have been hit with maintenance increases. Thus privatization does NOT work. Our Board, prior to privatization during the stage after the feasibility study,failed to present any financial info/loans/grants from govt agencies/programs. Often these loans had favorable terms.

    I am concerned about removal of employees that violate PHFL/HPD rules because employees may not by covered by grievance procedures or employment protections. There must be protections afforded under a Whistleblower program for employees/residents to report violations to HPD. HPD must address such concerns swiftly.
    I support HPD concern for fair elections, but do not support an attorney as monitor. I support HPD offering a choice such as hiring a Third party monitor, election committee etc. There is no one size fits all for each coop.
    Any feasibly study undertaken must require a Special Assessment NOT from the coop’s operating budget. Any votes on Feasibility study, Offering Plan, Red Herring Black Book must require a vote of at least 80%. Any projections set forth in the above Studies should be for a min. Of 5 years, so residents can make an informed decision about their housing situation.
    I support an Imposition of a moratorium on privatization or semi privatization efforts during Covid-19 and at least 6 months thereafter.
    For HPD to discontinue promoting conversions from Art 2 to Art 11, as these conversions are unaffordable for low/middle class residents and further under the fair housing act laws would result in a disparate impact on minorities and the disabled.
    I support HPD’s proposal to post contracts, agreements and Board minutes via a website. However, this information must also be available in paper format to those locking electronic access. These efforts wold promote transparency for the residents. Thank you.

    Comment added December 17, 2020 11:35am
  • Ronda Hauben

    I want to speak in opposition to the proposed rule change that will “Authorize HPD to approve the housing company’s attorney as an
    alternative election monitor.”

    For the past 4 years cooperators at RNA House have submitted complaints to the HPD about the abuse of their right to a fair election for the RNA Board of Directors that have occurred under the HPD practice of approving the RNA House attorney as the election monitor. As the HPD has no due process complaint procedure, the complaint has never been provided with a process by HPD, which would include an investigation, and response to the complaint. Instead the illegitimate practice is repeated year after year by the HPD authorizing the same law firm that has been responsible for documented abuses to be the only party to see what is on the ballots submitted by RNA cooperators in the annual election. Even more egregious however is the fact that this biased lawyer is the only person allowed to claim whatever he wants to claim is written on the ballots, thus having the power to determine the results of the election despite the will of the cooperators who have no means of oversight over his actions.

    Since the HPD has, despite complaints from cooperators, authorized this abusive behavior by the lawyer, only pro privatization candidates are able to be placed on the RNA House Board of Directors.

    What is wrong with the HPD empowering a pro privatization lawyer or law firm repeatedly to behave in an unfair manner? What is wrong with the HPD via its proposed rule to claim the right to authorize a biased lawyer or law firm to deny cooperators the right to a neutral process of determining the process and result of an election?

    It is important for complaints about the fairness of an election to be heard even if the person making the complaint is poor. Elections are not just about voting and about who wins the vote.

    Elections are also about the process of the election and whether the people participating in the election find the process of the election to be a fair one. The term election justice is used to represent this aspect of the election

    The concept of election justice must not be dependent on one’s wealth.

    When RNA cooperators inquired about what costs would be for them to take such a situation to a New York State Court they were told they have a legitimate cause of action to bring to court, but that it would require at least a starting amount of $5000 and many thousands of dollars afterwards.

    Many of the cooperators who live in RNA, especially those who want to remain in Mitchell-Lama do not have the financial resources to afford an expensive lawsuit.

    The HPD has no means to provide for a fair election procedure when it empowers a lawyer or law firm to determine the conduct and results of an election at a Mitchell-Lama co-op. Hence authorizing a lawyer or law firm no matter what irregular practices are undertaken by that lawyer or law firm is contrary to the responsibility of the HPD. The obligation of the HPD is to provide a mechanism of conducting an election that is fair, clear and with processes applied equally to all cooperators.

    Since the proposed new rule does not provide a mechanism for an election that is fair, clear and with processes applied equally to all cooperators, the rule should not be adopted by the HPD.

    Comment added December 17, 2020 12:59pm
  • LORRAINE MCANDREWS

    I agree with everything said by David Tambini and Miguel Jaraique as many other commenters do. They both disagreed with the proposals as I do. I especially am against having our attorneys count ballots as it is an obvious conflict of interest.
    Lorraine McAndrews
    Big Six Towers
    Woodside, Queens

    Comment added December 17, 2020 5:24pm

Comments are now closed.