*** updated on 7/8/19

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Third Party Transfer program on Monday, July 22, announced Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy Jr., who represents the 36th District including Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, neighborhoods particularly affected by the controversial program.

Under the TPT program, which was introduced in 1996, the city forecloses on distressed, neglected properties and transfers them to nonprofit developers to fix them and to improve the living conditions for the properties’ tenants. The program, however, came under scrutiny last year after reports had emerged that the properties of more than 60 black and brown homeowners in less affluent neighborhoods had been placed in TPT, often without properly notifying them.

The joined oversight hearing will be led by the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, chaired by Cornegy, and the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, led by Councilmember Ritchie Torres.

“We are going to take a close look at the Third Party Transfer program and hold HPD to account for any shortcomings,” said Cornegy. “We must assess and reconcile with the impacts that the program is having, particularly in black and brown communities. One mistake can lead to the loss of a generation of wealth for a family.”

Marlene Saunders, a Crown Heights homeowner whose home was placed in TPT last year. Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader

In response to the controversy surrounding the program, Brooklyn lawmakers held a hearing at Brooklyn Borough Hall in March, and last November, elected officials including Cornegy, Borough President Eric Adams and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery called for a moratorium on TPT until an investigation was conducted to determine if the recent foreclosure proceedings were in line with the program’s original intent.

In June, the city formed a Third Party Transfer program working group in June, co-chaired by Cornegy and consisting of elected officials, nonprofits, advocates and community stakeholders to ensure that homeowners’ properties are not being seized unjustly and to recommend changes.

During the oversight hearing, HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll is expected to answer questions from the committees. Also advocates and constituents will have an opportunity to be heard, including Paul Saunders who will testify on behalf of his mother, Marlene Saunders, a Crown Heights homeowner whose property was falsely placed in TPT last year.

Prior to the hearing, Cornegy will host a rally at noon in front of City Hall to call for more transparency regarding TPT and greater protections for homeowners; the hearing, which is open to the public, will follow at 1:00pm.

***Update: The hearing was initially scheduled for Wednesday, July 10 at 1:00pm but was subsequently rescheduled for Monday, July 22. The story has been updated to reflect that change.  


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