New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development

 

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Office of the New York State Comptroller

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Housing Preferences for Veterans (Issued 6/6/12)


Purpose
To determine whether veterans seeking housing at Mitchell-Lama developments supervised by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (NYC HPD) have received the preference afforded them by the Private Housing Finance Law (Law). The audit covers the period September 12, 2010 through January 19, 2012.

Background
Since 2007, the Law has given disabled veterans an advantage in securing housing at developments originally funded through the Mitchell-Lama program. In 2010, we audited oversight of this preference at the State level and found veterans' rights were bypassed at many locations visited. That same year, the Law was expanded to extend the same preference to non-disabled veterans of many foreign conflicts, or their surviving spouses. This audit examines NYC HPD's oversight of the 97 Mitchell-Lama housing developments it oversees within New York City and their obligation to ensure veterans, including soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, are afforded the legal preferences earned through their service.

Key Findings
Although the Legislature has extended the right of preference to many more veterans, few have actually benefited due to causes consistent with our previous findings at the State level: inaction and/or disregard by housing companies, and lax enforcement by the oversight agency. Specifically:

  • We reviewed a judgmental sample of 18 housing developments with open waiting lists. These developments reportedly filled 332 vacancies during our review period, of which only 14 were filled by a veteran.
  • Many housing companies did not follow NYC HPD's directive and therefore did not know whether eligible veterans were on their waiting lists.
  • Two developments in Manhattan (Hamilton House and Clinton Towers) each filled vacant apartments with non-veterans even though veterans had been identified on their waiting lists. NYC HPD approved many of these non-veteran applications despite the existence of veterans' names on those developments' waiting lists.

Key Recommendations

  • Take additional steps to educate housing company officials about their responsibility to ensure that appropriate preference is awarded to veterans as specified in the Law.
  • Actively monitor whether housing companies are taking necessary steps to ensure that veterans receive appropriate preference.
  • Investigate the cases cited in this report where housing companies failed to offer available
    housing to eligible veterans.

Link to full audit report (2011-N-3)

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest
Division of Housing and Community Renewal: Housing Preference for Disabled Veterans Report 2010-S-42


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone:(518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236