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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Preserving and Expanding Affordable Housing Opportunities

Issued: December 11, 2014
Link to full audit report 2014-D-1


Access to a habitable and secure place to live is a basic human need, essential to good health and well‐being. Keeping New Yorkers housed is costly, however. Government spends billions of dollars annually to assist developers, owners, and renters. New York’s challenge is to deploy public resources more effectively to provide quality, affordable housing to as many New Yorkers as possible.

Toward that end, in 2013, Comptroller DiNapoli began an audit initiative focused on affordable housing. The aims of the audit series are to examine the performance and oversight of affordable housing programs in New York State and New York City, to identify risks, and to recommend management improvements. The first three audits in this series reviewed the administration of nearly 20,000 tenant complaints and the awarding of $230 million in government‐funded low‐interest loans for affordable housing repair and development.

Enforcing maintenance and safety standards in rent‐regulated housing is critical to preserving New York’s dwindling supply of rent‐stabilized and rent‐controlled apartments. However, tenants who file complaints with the Office of Rent Administration (ORA) in New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) wait, on average, 10 months for their complaints to be resolved. Auditors found that 15 percent of tenant complaints received during 2012 had not been assigned to an examiner two years later. Just 80 examiners – who also perform other duties – handle the 6,500 tenant complaints received each year.

Credible governance of affordable housing loan programs is also critical for effective use of scarce housing resources. This means using transparent, uniform, and written criteria to avoid the appearance of favoritism in awarding loans. Auditors found that HCR’s Housing Trust Fund Corporation could not document why it approved 19 loans to developers, totaling $34 million, against the recommendations of its professional staff. Similarly, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) could not document why it gave a not‐for‐profit housing corporation, owned primarily by a for‐profit developer, a lower loan interest rate than a not‐for‐profit, financially distressed housing corporation owned by its low‐income residents.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development: Administration of the Article 8-A Loan Program (2013-N-4)
New York State Homes and Community Renewal: Low-Income Housing Trust Fund Program (2013-S-32)
Homes and Community Renewal: Office of Rent Administration Administration of Tenant Complaints (2013-S-72)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Director: Cheryl Pahaham
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236