In 2007, the City Council passed the Safe Housing Act, groundbreaking legislation that took a targeted approach to improving the worst living conditions for New Yorkers and authorized the creation of the Alternate Enforcement Program (AEP). Each year, through the AEP, the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) selects 200 of the city's most poorly-maintained residential buildings and notifies their landlords that the buildings require wide-scale repairs. If a landlord then fails to make those repairs, HPD may intervene to have the repairs made and recoup the cost of the repairs from the landlord.
Nevertheless New York City continues to face a housing crisis, with much of its affordable housing stock falling into disrepair and many low-income tenants living in appalling conditions.
After hearing reports of landlords taking advantage of the AEP to force low-income tenants out, renovate the apartments and then rent to young professionals willing to pay a significantly higher rent, MRNY conducted a survey of tenants in AEP buildings. MRNY surveyed 85 tenants in AEP buildings in the area surrounding MRNY's Brooklyn office, surveying tenants from a range of building sizes and covering buildings from all five years of the AEP. Here, we report the results of those surveys. After five years of the AEP, they provide significant insight into the functioning of the AEP from the perspective of AEP building tenants -- both in terms of those aspects of the AEP that function well and should be expanded upon, and those aspects of the AEP that may require improvement. They also point the way towards other enforcement mechanisms that might better preserve New York City's housing stock and ensure that all tenants live in conditions that are safe, sanitary and comfortable.