July 18, 2005 - Council Member Gale A. Brewer (D-Manhattan) today announced an agreement detailing a new housing inspections program that was developed in conjunction with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). The agreement, which was signed by Speaker Gifford Miller representing the Council, and HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg, creates a new building-wide inspections program that will address serious housing conditions. The new inspections program provides a mechanism through which City Council Members-in conjunction with local community groups-can work with HPD to identify buildings that would benefit from roof-to-cellar inspections. The agreement also details the way in which inspections and follow-up will proceed, and develops a method that will allow a comprehensive look at some of New York's most problematic residences.
A number of community-based housing advocacy groups-including the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), who played an essential role in the creation of the program-were also present at the announcement, illustrating the support for this program from advocacy groups, as well as from the Council and the Administration. The widespread backing for this agreement stems from a near-universal resolve to provide effective tools for tenants in low-income housing.
"Decent housing is the kind of bread-and-butter issue that affects people directly," said Council Member Brewer. "As a result of this program, the City will have safer and better maintained apartments, which will definitely improve the quality of life for many of our City's residents."
This agreement will address serious housing issues by allowing comprehensive inspections in buildings chosen by the local City Council Member, using input from HPD and community groups. The initiative will provide for the full inspection of up to 400 housing units in 30 buildings per Council District. HPD will then inspect the residences, working with Council Members or community-based housing advocacy groups to ensure access to as many apartments and other areas of the building as possible. After writing up a Building Violation Summary, HPD will refer issues that are not violations of the Housing Maintenance Code but are considered problematic to the appropriate governmental agency. A team from HPD will then meet-taking into account input from Council Members and community groups-to discuss appropriate ensuing actions. These actions could include offering Voluntary Repair Agreements to building owners, suggesting appropriate housing education classes, or commencing litigation, among other things. HPD will continue to follow up with building owners until sufficient progress is made, or until the case is referred for litigation if owners are non-responsive.
"Throughout our City, New Yorkers are struggling to raise families in apartment buildings that are literally falling apart," Speaker Miller said. "This housing inspection program will make sure that no home goes unrepaired, by involving those who can best attend to the needs of a community-local advocates and neighborhood leaders."
"HPD's Housing Inspectors completed over 225,000 inspections across the City just last year," said Commissioner Donovan. "HPD is committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers live in safe and well-maintained housing. Collaborating with City Council Members and community groups will help us to target some of the most troublesome buildings in the City in a comprehensive way, covering every corner of New York. Maintaining and preserving our existing housing stock is a key part of Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan, which will fund the rehabilitation and construction of 68,000 apartments and homes by 2008."
Irene Baldwin, Executive Director of the Association for the Neighborhood and Housing Development said, "The policy announced today marks a major advance in the way that the City enforces its housing code. We thank the City Council and the Administration for working with the neighborhood housing organizations to make homes more livable for some of the City's poorest families."
The agreement will be implemented immediately, beginning with inspections in three Council Districts-one in the Bronx, one in upper Manhattan, and one in Brooklyn-and will continue until all 51 Districts are participating in the program.