The Wall Street Journal reported today on HPD’s new program, the Proactive Preservation Initiative. As opposed to relying on tenants to call 311 and report every violation, this program is intended to establish an actual account of violations in order to improve things before it’s too late.
As you know, at UHAB we organize in buildings that are in foreclosure, which often goes hand in hand with neglect and disrepair. More often than not, tenants have long given up on calling 311, feeling as though their complaints fall on deaf ears and code violations go unnoticed. This makes it difficult for HPD and advocates who do not live in the building to have a clear understanding of the level of disrepair and what kind of work needs to be done.
There have been several cases where PPI has been a useful tool to create real change for the tenants we organize with. In September, we began organizing in 1122, 1124, and 1134 Willoughby- three buildings in Brooklyn with the same owner and a cross-collateralized mortgage. The buildings were in foreclsoure and in critical condition. PPI conducted surveys of the buildings and rated them a “Fair Minus.” At this point, the owner, Jacob Stuhl, worked out a deal with the bank and arranged the keep the buildings but HPD maintained a watchful eye, continuing to monitor the buildings. Quickly after the workout, HPD entered into comprehensive court cases in two of the buildings, holding the landlord, Jacob Stuhl, more accountable to meaningful repairs and relief for the tenants.
In order to enter the Proactive Preservation program, buildings must be referred to HPD by community advocates or elected officials. To read more about this process, and what happens next, visit HPD’s website. And if you know a building that warrants a referral, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.