Controversial N.Y.C. Housing Program Under Fire

The Third Party Transfer program lets the city transfer ownership of delinquent properties, but it unfairly targets communities of color, say critics.

August 9, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Brooklyn Brownstones

a katz / Shutterstock

The Third Party Transfer program in New York City allows the city to shift ownership of properties with unpaid taxes or utility bills to third-party owners. While the original intent was to preserve fiscally challenged properties as affordable housing, critics say the outcomes have been problematic.

"Several city lawmakers argue that the program has morphed into a 'blunt instrument' that targets communities of color and essentially robs modest landlords of their properties over minuscule debts," writes Caroline Spivack. Most of the properties are located in gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and a city council investigation revealed that half of the properties reviewed did not actually meet the program’s criteria.

Critics also note that properties with relatively minimal debt are being included in the program, says Spivack. "This is unaccepted and points to the program’s dire need for reform especially when those who lose their properties after years of pouring labor and resources into the buildings are not compensated despite building values that often far exceeding the debts that are owed to the city, added [Richie] Torres."

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