Affordability preserved at Cooper Square, Co-op City

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced last Friday that affordability has been preserved for 16,083 homes, including in Cooper Square and Co-op City. The city used low-cost preservation programs and tax exemptions to guarantee stability for families in 95 buildings throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

“We are facing an unprecedented crisis, and after we have defeated this virus and begin to pick up the pieces, we will need affordable housing like never before,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Locking in the affordability of these homes across the city will be crucial to ensuring stability for New Yorkers as we recover.”

HPD was able to secure affordability for 327 apartments across 21 buildings for the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association in the East Village, which is the oldest Community Land Trust in the city. HPD collaborated with the Office of the New York State Attorney General, which provided $1.5 million in funding that Cooper Square will be able to use to expand services for local senior residents. Affordability has been ensured at Cooper Square for the next 40 years as a result of the deal.

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IAIs were inflated at hundreds of NY apts. suit says

Attorney General Letitia James

By Sabina Mollot

A property manager is being accused of lying about the costs of hundreds of apartment renovations in order to have the rents reach the threshold where they could be converted to market rate.

The property manager, David Drumheller and his company, JBD Realty Services, were both named as defendants in a lawsuit that was filed by Attorney General Letitia James last Thursday.

The suit accuses Drumheller of fraud and repeatedly violating the Rent Stabilization Law for the individual apartment improvement (IAI) scheme, which was allegedly perpetrated at hundreds of apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn. At that time, he was working for Newcastle Realty Services, a firm that manages roughly 2,500 units in the city. He also, along with an unnamed associate, allegedly collected $1.2 million in kickbacks from contractors who did renovation work at Newcastle-managed apartments. Some contractors were said to have paid the pair directly, while others paid for their expenses such as country club dues, Porsche payments and home improvement projects. Most of the contractors made most of their money from the Newcastle jobs, including a landscape design firm that had no apartment renovation experience when hired by Newcastle.

According to the attorney general, the scheme went on for years between 2012-2016, with Drumheller manipulating the IAI system that allows property owners to charge permanent rent increases to tenants based on the cost of the renovations that were done in their apartments. An owner can charge 1/60th of the cost in buildings with over 35 units, and 1/40th of the cost in buildings with 35 or fewer units. The goal was to get the rents to reach the threshold where they could be deregulated.

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