Sunday, November 9, 2008

Adam Lisberg

Housing Authority gives city

big shot the suite-est deal: $32 rent

Sunday, November 9th 2008, 3:08 AM

This has to be the best real estate deal in New York.

Rent an office in Brooklyn for $32 a month. The landlord won't send you a bill. And if you don't feel like paying it, no one will come after you.

Who gets a bargain like this? Community Board 18, the former fiefdom of Democratic macher Frank Seddio, who rose from district manager to assemblyman to Surrogate Court judge until he resigned under scrutiny from the Daily News.

Who writes a lease like that? The New York City Housing Authority, landlord for 400,000 New Yorkers, which is always in the red despite endlessly raising rents and cutting jobs.

Community Board 18 has its office in NYCHA's Glenwood development in Flatlands. A secretary who picked up the phone there Friday said the board never gets a rent bill because the city picks up the tab.

She's wrong: The board doesn't get a rent bill because NYCHA never sends it.

This column got hold of its most recent bill. It is addressed to "Frank Seddio, City Hall, New York, NY, 10007." This month's rent: $32. Past due balance: $3,008.

In other words, Community Board 18 hasn't paid rent for almost eight years, Seddio hasn't been there for almost forever and nobody at NYCHA seemed to notice.

"Years ago, invoices were sent to him incorrectly," NYCHA spokesman Howard Marder said after he was faxed a copy of the bill. "We'll make a correction, we'll go back to the community board and we'll straighten it out."

NYCHA has plenty of woes, of course, and $3,040 in unpaid rent from a politically connected community board is barely a drop in the bucket. Mayor Bloomberg is forcing it to lay off 200 community service workers to save $18.6 million; it is trying harder to fix its sometimes deadly elevators, but the money for that comes at the expense of other building maintenance.

The agency has been trying to wring more money out of the businesses and other groups that rent space in its projects, Marder said, bringing leases closer to market rates. So far this year, it has billed them $6.45 million - up from $4.28 million three years ago.

Still, the average NYCHA leaseholder pays $378 a month for an apartment - and would be out on the street after eight years of nonpayment. Seddio didn't return a call for comment.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, head of the City Council's Public Housing Committee, said Legal Services lawyers once told her of a tenant taken to court for being 50 cents short on the rent.

"Eight years would be a lot," she said diplomatically. "They'd be taken to court."

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