Transcript of Q&A from Brian Lehrer Show Friday, January 19, 2018:
Question to Mayor de Blasio from HDFC shareholder Anita:
I live in a low income co-op in West Harlem that the City has put into the foreclosure process but we have been working for years to turn around our building and do everything right. I’m asking the Mayor because the problem is that we are not alone. The City is foreclosing on almost 100 low income co-ops. That’s over 2,000 dwelling units all over the City in four boroughs. The human and financial cost of foreclosure is horrible. It’s really serious. Many owners are working to save their buildings. Can the Mayor halt this and offer alternatives?
Mayor de Blasio responds:
Anita, I know about this issue and I can tell it’s heartfelt for you and I appreciate that. But I don’t think the way you’ve described it gives us the whole picture. First all these are buildings that the City has been providing finical support to for many, many years and in some cases decades. There are a number of buildings where there are big, outstanding finical issues. The City has been trying to work with the residents to address those issues building by building. When you use a word like foreclose and a lot of people use it, I don’t blame you but I think it is the wrong word in this case. It suggests that somehow that things are going to be taken away from people. I disagree with that. We have said to the residents of these buildings – work with us on a payment plan, work with us on a way to address the finical problems of the buildings, if we can work that out we are happy to and continue what’s going on in the co-op. But if we can’t, if there is no viable finical way forward the City will step in but it will also guarantee that the people who are living there continue to live in affordable housing as long as they are there. And then we would make sure that it remains affordable housing thereafter. What we don’t want to see is these buildings collapse financially and we don’t want to see them privatized and become market housing. So we’ve invested a lot over the years. But Anita, to be clear, the folks who live there now, in affordable housing will get to keep that affordable housing under our vision. And any co-op that says we have a new plan, we have a new idea on how we can address our finical problems – we will invite them in immediately and see if we can make that plan work. Lehrer: Anita, thank you for your call.