FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION MODIFYING THE ALTERNATIVE ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM AT THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING PRESERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
"The first of two bills before me today is Introductory Number 436-A, sponsored by Council Members Mendez, James, Brewer, Chin, Dromm, Lander, Mark-Viverito, Seabrook, Vann, Williams, Jackson, Rodriguez, Nelson, Arroyo, Rose, Lappin, Gennaro, Recchia, Fidler, Barron, Gardonick, Gonzalez, Greenfield, Koppell, Reyna, and Sanders. Introductory Number 436-A makes changes to the Alternative Enforcement Program.
"Created by local law in 2007, the Alternative Enforcement Program was established as a means for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to promote housing safety in some of the City's most distressed residential buildings. The Program aims to increase the pressure on property owners to correct an accumulation of Housing Maintenance Code violations in a timely manner. If an owner refuses to correct the violations, HPD will intervene, make the necessary repairs, and place a lien against the property to recuperate the money owed for the services.
"Current law requires HPD to identify two hundred buildings every year for inclusion in AEP that have demonstrated a consistent history of serious Code violations as well as expenditures through HPD's Emergency Repair Program. After reviewing the six hundred buildings included in AEP over the first three years of its existence, it became clear that the current criteria produced buildings that tended to be smaller - on average only 6-7 units. In reevaluating the Program, it was important to create a better cross section of building sizes to ensure the program produces maximum results citywide. Accordingly, Introductory 436-A amends the existing criteria and allows HPD to make further amendments through rulemaking for future selection rounds. This will allow HPD to monitor and assess the progress of the selection criteria and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that buildings selected in subsequent rounds are representative of the most distressed buildings in New York City.
"Another significant change to the Program included in Introductory Number 436-A is to specifically designate asthma triggers, including mold conditions and vermin infestation, as conditions mandating correction within the Program. In consultation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the bill includes work practices for the removal of mold and vermin infestation for buildings selected for AEP. Almost 95 percent of the buildings selected for AEP contain Code violations for mold and vermin infestation in the overall violation count. Including these specific asthma triggers in the Program will ensure that these violations are corrected in a timely fashion, and most importantly, according to a standard protocol.
"The last major change to the Program is the means by which a building may be discharged from the program. Currently, HPD may discharge a building from AEP after the owner has substantially corrected all of the open Code violations, fully paid all of the outstanding charges and fees associated with HPD completing the necessary work, and registered the building with HPD for continued monitoring. Introductory Number 436-A allows for the acceptance of a payment agreement as another means of discharge from the Program. Experience over the past three years has shown that the requirement of full payment for Program discharge has caused a significant number of buildings to remain in the Program even after the necessary work has already been completed. This new option will be a welcome change for the smaller buildings in the Program that might have difficulty paying off the full amount at once and will ensure the Department's resources are focused on the buildings in most need.
"The Alternative Enforcement Program is vital to HPD's mission to ensure all New Yorkers are afforded the opportunity to live in residences that are safe and in a state of good repair. The changes in Introductory Number 436-A improve the functionality of the Program and thoughtfully expand the Program's scope to alleviate public health hazards that disproportionately take place in physically distressed buildings like those in AEP.
"The success of the Alternative Enforcement Program has been a collaborative effort with the City Council from the onset and I'd like to thank HPD Commissioner Cestero, City Council Speaker Quinn and their staffs for working on this bill along with my Office of City Legislative Affairs. I would also like to thank the City Council for approving this legislation."
Stu Loeser/Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958
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