Frustration is growing for several dozen families in three downtown Brooklyn apartment buildings who were promised new affordable housing digs in June 2008.
But the city maintains they are working as fast as they can to relocate them.
The buildings located at 402, 404 and 406 Albee Square off Willoughby Street are slated for demolition to make room for a park bounded by Fulton, Willoughby and Duffield streets.
The seizure of the homes is the result of the 2004 Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, and following a court battle, the city agreed to move eligible tenants in the buildings with substantial relocation benefits and protections including Section 8 subsidies and a preference in city-supervised affordable developments.
Eighteen months later, tenants allege that city workers have threatened to place them into the city’s shelter system or city-owned property in dangerous neighborhoods. They also complain the city’s department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is not caring for apartments in the building, which now has molded walls, detached sinks and, in one apartment, a steam pipe that spews hot water from the ceiling.
“You would think that in the middle of an economic and housing crisis that the agency responsible for development and preserving housing would live up to its name and preserve these buildings. Residents are living in inhumane conditions and threatened or mocked by HPD workers, while being forced to pay rent or face eviction,” said resident Janine Brunson.
HPD spokesperson Eric Bederman responded the agency has been working with the residents to assist them in finding suitable relocation options since the city acquired the buildings earlier this year.
“The residents of Albee Square are entitled to relocation benefits which may include Section 8 subsidies and a preference in city-assisted affordable housing developments. HPD has offered every eligible household a Section 8 application and is working with those families to help them complete the paperwork,” said Bederman.
“We have already helped move families into NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) properties, and are expecting several more to move in the next few weeks,”he added.
Bederman cautioned, however, that not every household in the three buildings meets the eligibility requirements for these programs.
“We are doing what we can to help accommodate them to the best of our ability,” Bederman said.
In regard to allegations that HPD was not keeping the apartments in good condition, Bederman said tenants are painting a pretty broad stroke in regard to some of their allegations, and indicated there was no record of complaints about specific problems.
Jennifer Levy, the attorney who represented the tenants in their court battle with the city, and whose name was the contact person on the press release regarding the allegations, said she wasn’t sure if any formal complaints were made.
HPD knows about the condition of the buildings, though, she said.
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