August 29, 2014
By Stephanie West
Albany, NY – New York State’s Low Income Housing Trust Fund program is meant to help alleviate New York’s affordable housing shortage, but it is beset by avoidable delays that keep thousands of applicants waiting months on end, according to an audit by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“We can’t afford to waste a single dollar or a single day when it comes to helping families find a place to live,” DiNapoli said. “It’s distressing to find that this important program is keeping families waiting for assistance because of unnecessary delays and the questionable awarding of funds to projects often deemed infeasible by the program’s own staff. This crucial program can and must be, run more efficiently and with greater transparency on why and how it chooses the projects it awards taxpayer dollars. I am pleased that, in response to our recommendations, the division said it’s taking steps to fix these problems.”
Auditors found about 4,400 low-income housing units were delayed by more than six months on average, in large part because of the division’s poor selection of projects to fund. The program awarded millions to projects even though division staff ruled them “infeasible” after reviewing the applications. Projects considered “infeasible” are not supposed to be selected for funding.
Throughout the review auditors noticed a pattern of poor selection of projects and mismanagement.
The Low Income Housing Trust Fund program is managed by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), whose parent agency is New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The program helps finance low income housing rehab and new construction with state, federal and private dollars. During the audit period, the program awarded $209 million to 111 projects.