For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Contact: General HPD Press Contact, hpdmedia@hpd.nyc.gov

 

HPD Releases "Speculation Watch List" to Fight Displacement in NYC Neighborhoods

The agency will use this new tool to track rent-regulated properties that may have been purchased by predatory investors to identify properties for enhanced tenant support

 

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) joined Council Member Ritchie Torres and the Stabilizing NYC Coalition to announce the release of the “Speculation Watch List,” which identifies recently sold rent-regulated buildings where potentially predatory investment may put tenants at risk. The City is making this information available so that tenants and tenant advocates can see another indication of where tenant harassment may occur. The list was announced as part of the Predatory Equity bill, which was signed into law earlier this year.

The Speculation Watch List is available on the HPD website. It will serve as a resource to support tenant advocacy and organizing. Released quarterly, the Speculation Watch List will include about 150 recently sold rent-regulated buildings a year.

“Through Housing New York we are working on multiple fronts to protect tenants from harassment and safeguard affordability for our city’s residents. The Speculation Watch List harnesses the power of data to gather information about where tenants are most at risk from the threat of predatory investment,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I want to thank Council Member Ritchie Torres for his leadership, as well as the many housing advocates who partnered with us to develop this innovative new tool to help us stop tenant harassment in its tracks.”

“This new law will ensure that the city and the public have the information they need in order to keep a check on potentially bad landlords from harassing tenants out of their apartments. The speculation watchlist uses innovative methods to compile a list of landlords that have overleveraged buildings where tenants may be at risk of displacement. It is another tool that will help protect tenants. Thanks to HPD for their partnership in working with my office and the City Council to get this law passed and enacted, and to the advocates and tenants who worked tirelessly on the legislation as well,” said New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres.

“I applaud this partnership between the Advocates, Council, and HPD to create an important additional tool to understand what buildings might be at risk of tenant harassment. This innovative new law is a template for how government can use data in ways that are meaningful to the public,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy

 “The increasing use of multifamily housing as a speculative investment tool has had documented negative impacts on tenants across New York City. We applaud the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for taking an important step towards combating speculation by developing and updating a Speculation Watch List. By tracking trends in sales prices and capitalization rates, organizers and advocates will be able to target outreach efforts in buildings where potentially speculative purchases have been made,” said Samantha Kattan, Co-Director of Organizing & Policy, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB).

“We commend Council Member Torres, the Mayor’s Office and HPD for their commitment to using City data to protect tenants from displacement and harassment. The Speculation Watch List will be an important tool for the City and advocates to track predatory equity driven speculation. The Stabilizing NYC Coalition is a Council-funded initiative to support tenant organizing to combat predatory equity. We look forward to our continued partnership to protect tenants and communities from real estate greed,” said Jackie Del Valle, Stabilizing NYC Coordinator, the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center.

“Chhaya believes the creation of a Speculation Watch List is a significant step forward in the fight against destabilizing real estate speculation. Immigrant communities including South Asian and Indo-Caribbean New Yorkers are increasingly vulnerable to predatory equity landlords. Chhaya is committed to organizing against these practices and looks forward to using the Speculation Watch List as a tool to preserve communities and protect the housing rights of all New Yorkers," said William Spisak, Director of Programs at Chhaya.

“The mechanism of predatory equity not only destabilizes individuals, but ultimately destabilizes the city. When people are driven from their homes and don’t know if they will have a place to live, it creates a constant state of flux and eats at the fabric of communities. It creates a ripple effect that gets bigger and touches everything. Predatory equity hurts the most vulnerable people, the ones society should be taking care of and protecting. We have to shine a light on predatory equity and stop the cycle, and we are excited that the speculation watchlist will help to do that,” said tenant Carmen Guzman.

When including buildings on the Speculation Watch List, HPD looks for rent-regulated buildings that sell at much higher than expected prices, which can signal that new landlords may raise rents, reduce services, or otherwise force out rent-regulated tenants to realize their investment. The buildings included on the list have lower capitalization rates—where a building’s income cannot support its purchase price—than average for each borough.

HPD also published a separate, broader list of all rent-regulated building sales and their capitalization rates in the City to allow for additional analysis of data that has not been publicly available previously. As this list will also be available online, HPD is looking forward to it facilitating innovative, creative uses of this novel data set.

This new measure is the latest in a series of efforts to protect tenants from harassment and displacement as part of the Mayor's comprehensive Housing New York plan, including the Certification of No Harassment Pilot Program, the Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit, and the Partners in Preservation program.

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The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York Plan which was recently expanded and accelerated through Housing New York 2.0 to complete the initial goal of 200,000 homes two years ahead of schedule—by 2022, and achieve an additional 100,000 homes over the following four years, for a total of 300,000 homes by 2026.  For full details visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.