NYC reaches $200K deal with the developer in wake of government audit

Following a federal investigation, the city of New York has severed ties with Jack A. Brown III, the CEO of Inclusive Communities Project, the administration’s partner on a multifamily affordable housing project in Bronxville, New York, that raises questions about Mr. Brown’s eligibility for a major government contract. This decision comes after more than three years in which the city has paid Mr. Brown $200,000 as the commission for a low-income housing project despite an almost imperceptible contribution in hours worked and $80,000 in charitable contributions made by his family over nearly two decades. The report by the Department of Investigation that led to the decision to no longer contract with Mr. Brown’s organization.”

Read the full report here.

Lack of Compliance

The New York City Housing Authority discovered a pattern of breaches in construction and compliance by the low-income housing project developer, which incorporated the Inclusive Communities Project, from the planning phase of the project in 2011 until its conclusion in 2016, according to the report. Among the violations cited by the Department of Investigation include long construction delays, cost overruns, non-applicable qualifications for the project’s architect, and unlawful actions, the report said.

In response to the report, Inclusive Communities Project sought the assistance of legal counsel and has not been able to respond to most allegations.

Quality of Service and Transparency

The project submitted to the Housing Authority 146 certificates of occupancy and 119 permits on the first day of construction and inspection, but each time it needed additional time and money.

When faced with these requests, the report said, HHA gave the project owner a glowing review for timely construction, consistency in building material costs, safety precautions, and other building “documents.”

On further review, according to the report, Inclusive Communities Project was not appropriately certified. Even worse, work that had never been inspected on-site had been given the approval.

After their contractors left, the investigators said, Inclusive Communities Group charged property owners as much as $10,000 a month to rent, more than three times what market rents would have been.

No clear Plan for the Future

“Overall, it is unclear how the project intends to fulfill its commitments. HHA’s inspections showed that its prior representations were not consistent with its records,” the report said.

Housing Authority has hired an architect to assess the quality of the project and an architecture professor to perform a “socioeconomic analysis” and make recommendations to ensure compliance and lead to the potential of long-term social inclusion.

Inclusive Communities Project released a statement, which said: “We are committed to meeting all our legal and ethical obligations in its entirety, and will continue to dedicate our resources to self-improvement. We welcome a full examination of these matters as we have fully cooperated with the NYCHA team in the past, and are anxious to provide additional relevant data to provide them with useful information.”

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