NEW YORK, NY – NYC Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. (D-36), Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, released the following statement in response to Mayor de Blasio’s announcement today that his administration will be seizing and transferring the ownership of additional privately-owned properties:

“I am deeply concerned by Mayor de Blasio’s  proposed expansion of property seizures like those carried out through the controversial Third Party Transfer program. After my experience with last year’s transfer of over sixty properties through TPT, I have serious doubts about the administration’s ability to competently identify ‘distressed’ properties. While I support the goal of improving protections for tenants, I cannot support expanding a policy that has already proven deeply problematic for black and brown homeowners. I believe we can uphold tenants’ rights without putting innocent homeowners’ rights in jeopardy.

“For black and brown communities, homeownership is one of the only ways to build and transfer wealth from one generation to the next. Over the course of the past year we in the Council have been forced to grapple with the aftermath of several questionable transfers of private property through the TPT program. In all, over 60 properties deemed as ‘distressed’ had their deeds transferred to third party developers. In one case, the home of a black senior in my community valued at over $2 million was transferred for outstanding municipal arrears of only $3,000, which turned out to be a record-keeping error on the part of the City.

“If after the most recent round of TPT, the administration was unable to effectively identify and transfer the most ‘distressed’ buildings, we need to review and reform the techniques we are using to find these properties before we consider creating and empowering an entirely new part of government to expand these transfers. As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, I fully intend to work with my colleagues in the Council to ensure no additional properties are transferred until we have completed a comprehensive review of the procedures the administration uses to identify ‘distressed’ properties and have passed laws appropriately tailoring the City’s power to foreclose on such properties.”