Do a better job of tracking complaints filed by affordable housing tenants

In response to a request submitted by Progress Queens under the state’s Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, the office of the New York State Attorney General indicated that the state’s top law enforcement officials did not track complaints filed by tenants living in 421-a affordable housing units.

Progress Queens had sought records of complaints filed with the State Attorney General’s office by such tenants going back 10 years, as well as records showing how the State Attorney General’s office handled those complaints.

The office of the New York State Attorney General wrote in its response to the FOIL request that their records of housing complaints "are not indexed in a manner that would enable the identification and location of documents" responsive to the FOIL request submitted by Progress Queens.  Consequently, the State Attorney General's Office wrote that the FOIL request submitted by Progress Queens "must be denied."

As reported by Progress Queens, many objections have been raised about the possible civil rights discrimination associated with dedicated entrances, referred to as "poor doors," that segregate affordable housing tenants from luxury housing tenants, who together live within the same apartment building.  

The 421-a tax abatement program was temporarily extended for six months, pending further negotiation in preparation for an anticipate four-year renewal.  It would benefit the public--and lawmakers--to know how many 421-a affordable housing tenants have filed complaints with the State Attorney General’s office, which, in turn, is supposed to address fair housing complaints for the state.

Had the State Attorney General’s office demonstrated some foresight about how it tracks housing complaints, it could have been using that information to benefit the recent and ongoing legislative negotiations on the renewal of the 421-a tax abatement program--for the sake of the affordable housing tenants.

  -- Progress Queens