Two weeks ago, City Limits Weekly ran a story detailing City Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s critical audit of the Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program, a city tenant ownership initiative. Two TIL defenders respond:

The criteria Hevesi used to judge TIL were abstract, show a lack of understanding of history and don’t acknowledge that, until recently, TIL has been seriously underfunded. Hevesi did a ground-level survey of just 19 buildings, a very small and unrepresentative sample. When Professor Susan Saegert from the CUNY Graduate Center analyzed the results of the surveys of 6,000 residents in various low- income housing programs, she concluded: “The program that performed the best was tenant co-operative ownership. It was head-and-shoulders above the others in terms of management quality and buildings services.”

-- Andrew Reicher, Executive Director, Urban Homesteaders Assistance Board (UHAB)

A key factor in the small number of distressed properties that Hevesi found was the very limited rehabilitation work that early TIL buildings underwent. In the early days, TIL buildings received approximately $5,000 per unit in renovation or less ... TIL units now get an average of $44,000.

Indeed, there are sold TIL building in tax arrears and disrepair. Still, 18 buildings out of the 352 buildings in tax arrears owe one-third of the taxes. In addition, 13 percent of the buildings owe 58 percent of the taxes. All six buildings Hevesi deemed to be in poor condition were sold prior to the changes made by the Giuliani administration.

We believe that this small number of buildings does not reduce the positive impact that TIL has had on communities.

-- Elba Ramos, Director of the TIL Program, New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development