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City Investigating Affordable Housing Complex in Rockaway Beach: Officials

By Katie Honan | November 15, 2016 8:16am

ROCKAWAY BEACH — An affordable housing complex is being probed by the Department of Investigation after complaints from residents about a stockpile of empty apartments and "lack of oversight" by the city agency overseeing it, officials said. 

Investigators from the DOI have been speaking with residents at Dayton Beach Park — a more than 1,100-unit, five-building federally subsidized affordable housing complex next to the Atlantic Ocean in Rockaway Beach — for a few weeks, sources said.

The investigation was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, who said they conducted their own examination after residents complained about issues with the co-op board.

While HPD, which is the agency responsible for overseeing the complex, "found no evidence to support the allegations," the DOI is moving forward with its own inquiry, HPD spokeswoman Juliet Pierre-Antoine confirmed.

A spokeswoman with DOI declined to comment. 

Sources said the investigation is focused on more than two dozen empty apartments at the buildings, despite a long waiting list. The co-op, which was built in 1964, is part of the Mitchell-Lama program, in which applicants are chosen from a wait list in order to be eligible to purchase the units at a lower-than-market rate price as a result of tax exemptions.

Allegations that the "warehousing" of apartments comes as the board is mulling a vote to remove itself from the Mitchell-Lama program — which would allow shareholders the chance to sell their apartments at market rate prices for the first time.

Allegations of warehousing apartments in Mitchell-Lama complexes is a longstanding complaint. In 2009, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli investigated similar complaints at Mitchell-Lama complexes across Manhattan.

An official with HPD said vacancies at Mitchell-Lama buildings are "fluid" as people move in and out, and there are 24 empty apartments at Dayton Beach Park.

Of those, 20 have already been offered to prospective tenants, the official said. 

Residents said they went to HPD over the past few years with concerns about the co-op board, but were largely ignored.

"HPD's governing is horrible," said a resident who asked to remain anonymous. "Their oversight, they don't do anything."

The board's president, Jennifer Grady, declined to comment.