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As City Fixes Buildings, Reimbursements Lag - New York

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During the worst of times at his Brooklyn apartment, in the winter after the hot water was shut off and the ceiling caved in and the floor buckled because of incessant leaks, Julio Yanez resorted to desperate measures to bathe his year-old twin sons.

Tucking one boy under each arm, he hightailed it every morning across the street in Bushwick to a kindly neighbor who let the family use her tub. Eventually, the city replaced the roof, patched ceilings and repaired walls, and billed the landlord $434,000.

Mr. Yanez could not be happier with the fixes. But the city has yet to be paid back.

This was not the outcome officials said they hoped for when they started a new housing enforcement program three years ago, which allowed the city to make repairs at severely distressed buildings and then, it was hoped, force landlords to pay for the work. But of the $17 million in repair work the city has undertaken, only $4.5 million has been paid back.

Meanwhile, the program is set to grow in ambition: newly proposed legislation would widen the list of repairs the city would do to include removing asthma triggers like vermin infestations and increasing the number of units allowed in the program to 3,500 from 1,000.

“Asthma is directly related to substandard housing,” Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, said at a news conference announcing the legislation this week. “And some landlords are simply lawless bad actors.”

Rafael E. Cestero, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said that while the repayments were not what the city had hoped for, the program had nonetheless been a success.

“This is not a program aimed at collecting money,” Mr. Cestero said. “It’s to ensure that the citizens of our city don’t live in unhealthy and unsafe conditions, and that’s what we’re doing.”

So landlords get free home improvements on their property. I bet they can't believe their luck on this one.

If you aren't going to be pursued for the money then what's the point in doing your own repairs, leave it for the bankrupt local govt.

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  • 309 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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