Urges Transparency and Cooperation with Local Government to Keep Housing Affordable
Washington, DC – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton voiced concern to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) over the department’s current plan to auction nine apartment buildings in Syracuse. In a letter to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, Senator Clinton underscored that the properties must be sold to the owners with the best plan to maintain the properties and keep them affordable, and not just be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Senator Clinton urged transparency and cooperation with the Syracuse government’s requests to be involved in the auctioning process to ensure that housing remains safe and affordable for the buildings’ tenants. The properties’ previous owner was removed after the buildings failed three inspections.
“While I applaud HUD for removing the previous owners of these buildings, it is important that the next owners are chosen based on their plans for these units’ maintenance and long-term affordability. The process of auctioning these buildings must be transparent and in cooperation with Mayor Driscoll and the Syracuse government to guarantee the tenants safe, decent, and affordable housing,” said Senator Clinton.
Text of Senator Clinton’s letter follows:
The Honorable Alphonso Jackson
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20410
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I have recently learned that the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to auction off nine apartment buildings in the City of Syracuse to the highest bidders. These buildings, comprised of more than 275 units – some still occupied by working families – have failed inspection three times in the past few years and have fallen into disrepair.
While I strongly agree that the former owner of these buildings, ElJay Redevelopment Co., should have been removed as swiftly as possible, I have concerns about the process HUD will employ to find new, more responsible owners.
Specially, I am disturbed that these units will be sold to the highest bidders instead of to the bidders with the best plans for the properties, including plans to ensure that these housing units remain affordable. I am troubled by the fact that potential bidders are only required to send limited information to HUD before the auction and that this information will not be made available to the City of Syracuse, the Syracuse Housing Authority, or the public. Additionally, an extremely high sale price could force the new landlords to make changes that would prove to be onerous to current and future tenants of these buildings, and lead to significantly higher rents, elimination of services, and even eviction. I strongly believe transparency throughout this process is essential to ensuring the next owners not only take better care of these units but also preserve affordability for current and future tenants.
It is my understanding that Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll has requested that HUD opts for a bidding process that would allow the city to participate in the selection of the new owners. To date, Mayor Driscoll has not received a response to his request.
I am hopeful that HUD will work with Mayor Driscoll and make the approval of this sale contingent upon the new owners’ commitment to long term affordability. I urge you to take the necessary steps to ensure that this housing complex provides the safe, decent, and affordable home every working family in America needs and deserves.
Hillary Rodham Clinton