DBP Residents Left in Limbo as HPD Throws Out Board Vote

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Earlier this month, as New Yorkers gave an anemic turnout to the voting booths, resident-shareholders of Dayton Beach Park (DBP) co-op, a New York City supervised Mitchell-Lama Development located in Rockaway Beach, anxiously awaited the results of a battle of their own — the Board of Directors election. However in a surprise twist, all votes were thrown out due to suspicions of voter fraud.

On November 1, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) issued a memo to all resident-shareholders of the five buildings that make up DBP, located at 8600 Shore Front Parkway, stating: “HPD has received many concerns about the accuracy of the list of eligible shareholders that Honest Ballot Association (HBA) has been relying on to determine the outcome of the 2017 Board of Directors. After a careful review of these concerns, HPD is voiding the voting that has occurred to date and is suspending the current voting. Proxies that have been submitted are also voided.”

For some residents, this surprising twist was indeed “Hot News” as just two weeks prior on October 19, residents of the 50-year-old 1156-unit affordable housing complex that comprises buildings: 8100, 8200, 8400, 8600, 8800 on Shore Front Parkway, were invited to the annual stockholders’ meeting, where they were told that HBA conducted a thorough vetting process to make sure that the shareholder voting list was indeed legit.

The meeting, held at Roma View in nearby Howard Beach, boasted quite a feast, where scores of residents were given the opportunity to vote, while being served with sumptuous Italian hor d’oeuvres and desserts. However, rabble-rousing in the room ignited as some folks questioned the lack of privacy on the ballot, which indicated to list the shareholder’s apartment and building number. A longtime DBP resident, who chose to remain anonymous, said, “This is illegal. This vote is supposed to be done by secret ballot. People will think that they have to list their apartment and building number. HBA is not doing their job, and as a result residents will be duped into accepting an election result that was illegally fashioned.”

Once the meeting kicked off with DBP Board President Jennifer Grady and representatives from Norris McLaughlin and Marcus, P.A., the law firm representing DBP on all corporate and landlord-tenant litigation, boasting improvements and added amenities to the co-ops including exercise rooms, modernized elevators, pool, additional parking and improved security, the temperature in the room began to boil.

Shareholders at the meeting became irate when they weren’t allowed to pose any questions regarding the financial statements presented and the thorniest issue of all, the Article XI (NYC Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) conversion process.

According to a statement by HPD Assistant Commissioner Julie Walpert, conversion to an HDFC would allow future shareholders an opportunity to realize a return on their investment as a HPD Mitchell-Lama co-op shareholder. Apartments would be able to be sold for a profit on the open market, although there will be a limit on sales prices and purchasers will have to meet specified income limit and family composition requirements. Walpert asserts that a Mitchell-Lama’s conversion to an HFDC would preserve affordability in the cooperative for an additional thirty years.

Some DBP resident-shareholders strongly disagree. Another resident, who did not want their name mentioned out of fear of retaliation, said, “The Board authorized $100K for this conversion study without giving residents a fair chance to comment. This conversion sounds too good to be true. They are just blowing smoke up our butts by making us think that if we go private, our homes will now be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. With the conversion, our maintenance fees will go up incrementally every year. If someone wanted to sell at the market rate price, the Board will have the right to deny your buyer without giving you a sound reason, and if a member of your family is not on the affidavit, they won’t have succession rights to inherit the apartment, meaning the apartment would now be the property of the management company. Also you will not be able to get equity on the apartment. Shareholding residents need to really compare and evaluate their rights as Mitchell-Lama shareholders with HPD to privatization with HDFC.”

However Board-appointed DBP member, Joseph Canizio, disagrees. “I have lived here since 1976, and I love living here. What the current Board  has been able to accomplish since Hurricane Sandy is nothing short of amazing. The grounds are in excellent condition, every building’s lobby has flat screen TVs, new elevators, laundry rooms and much more. I understand why people would be weary about the conversion process. For families who have lived here for decades, there’s a lot at stake, especially our rights to maintain affordable housing. However, the role of the Board is to educate residents about the pros and cons. I think it’s great the HPD has stepped in to audit the shareholders’ voting list. A lot of people live here, who for example, may have had a parent who passed away, and think they are shareholders because they have lived here for years. However, that’s not the case. If you are not on the affidavit, you are not a shareholder and the share of the co-op should be given back to the co-operative.”

When The Rockaway Times (RT) contacted HPD about when the election will be finally held, HPD spokesperson, said, “Our concern is that there is not an accurate list of shareholders. We are currently conducting an audit to compile an accurate list. We do not yet have a timeframe for when the election will resume, but we are working diligently and will ensure that when the voting is re-opened that the shareholders are all properly noticed.”

The RT will provide any updates in future editions.

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