Christopher Browne (Towns)
May 26, 2011
DiNapoli Audit Recommends Strengthening Enforcement of Veteran Housing Preferences
New NYSHCR Commissioner Towns Supports Recommendations
“By law, disabled veterans are supposed to be given a preference to Mitchell-Lama housing,” DiNapoli said. “What has happened is just unacceptable. These vets have made unimaginable sacrifices for our nation; they should get every benefit they’re entitled to when they come home.
“So many New Yorkers are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. NYSHCR has to make and enforce immediate changes to ensure these men and women – and their families – aren’t turned away from the housing that they deserve and the law says they should have. Commissioner Towns has only been on the job a short while, but he’s already stepping up to implement our recommendations and protect veterans’ rights.”
Commissioner Towns said: “NYS Homes and Community Renewal is dedicated to increasing transparency and accountability in our programs and procedures. The audit released today indicated that practices that occurred in this agency under previous administrations did not adequately relay information about housing preferences to some disabled veterans on housing waiting lists. Actions that our administration has already initiated, and steps that we have since developed with the Comptroller’s office, will fix this problem.”
According to the law sponsored by Towns, a former assemblyman, housing companies must provide disabled veterans with a preference in admission to Mitchell-Lama housing developments. In advance of that law’s enactment, NYSHCR issued a memorandum in 2007 instructing housing companies on how they should implement the law. Since then, NYSHCR has required housing companies to revise their tenant selection procedures, marketing advertisements, outreach letters, and apartment applications to give disabled veterans, and their families, priority consideration for available housing.
In addition, the housing companies were to notify existing waiting list applicants of this new priority.
The audit covered the period November 2007 to September 2010. The law was subsequently expanded to include all wartime veterans and their spouses.
Auditors examined 18 housing facilities in the New York City area. Among the findings:
DiNapoli recommended that NYSHCR:
DHCR generally agreed with DiNapoli’s findings and indicated they would take corrective action.
The full audit can be read at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093011/10s42.pdf.Currently, there are 175 DHCR-supervised Mitchell-Lama developments in New York State, with approximately 73,000 units. There are approximately 695,000 wartime veterans who are residents of New York State, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.