Although some owner groups claim it won’t be enough, the city is establishing a $10 million pilot program to assist landlords in repairing unoccupied, rent-stabilized apartments.
According to a statement made on Wednesday by Mayor Eric Adams, the “Unlocking Doors” project would offer up to $25,000 per unit to owners of empty, rent-stabilized units that require work in order to be rerented.
There are certain restrictions.
The City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement, or CityFHEPS, voucher program of the city would allocate the restored units to residents who had previously been homeless.
400 apartments, a small portion of the tens of thousands of vacant, rent-stabilized apartments in the city, are anticipated to be included in the trial program. The initiative will examine whether the financing amount is adequate to rehabilitate homes that landlords claim they keep empty since the state’s 2019 rent regulation does not permit them to recoup enough refurbishment expenditures.
The municipal program reimburses landlords for eligible expenses following the completion of renovations and approval by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, rather than giving money up in advance.
The Adams administration was praised by the Real Estate Board of New York for “putting forth creative solutions that seek to address the need for renovating and maintaining much-needed housing stock for voucher holders.”
However, other landlord organizations instantly attacked the program. The Community Housing Improvement Program and the Rent Stabilization Association said in a joint statement that $25,000 is not enough to cover the renovations required in stabilized buildings.
The organizations also criticized the government for failing to contact CHIP and RSA, two groups that “represent the majority of rent-stabilized apartment building owners in New York City,” prior to the announcement of the trial program.
In order to give landlords a one-time rent reset for vacated, rent-stabilized units, CHIP has been advocating for the state to enact a law. The group is pressing for the policy’s inclusion in the state budget and anticipates that, in the event that it is not, a separate measure would be submitted.
According to landlords, the strong limitations placed by the rent stabilization statute on their capacity to raise rents prevented them from successfully bringing vacant properties up to code when long-term leases terminated. The city’s Rent Guidelines Board recently released a report that revealed owners’ net operating revenue fell by a record 9.1 percent in 2021.
Apartments with the lowest rent, those that are “chronically vacant,” and those that need “significant repairs to become safe and habitable” will be given priority in the pilot. According to CHIP, these apartments frequently need $75,000 and occasionally far over $100,000 worth of work, including the removal of lead and asbestos, but can only be rented for $1,000 a month or much less.
This summer, the city will start accepting applications for the program.
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