May 14, 2011
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To explore affordable-housing production nationwide, The Post analyzed a database of 5,100 open construction and renovation projects funded at $50,000 or more under the U.S Department and Housing and Urban Development’s HOME program.

To calculate the number of projects that appear to be delayed or abandoned, the newspaper used three criteria: projects launched more than five years ago that are still incomplete, projects that had not drawn money against their HUD accounts in at least 18 months or projects with other verified delays.

Overall, the newspaper identified an estimated 700 projects that were awarded $400 million; nearly 450 were launched in 2006 or earlier. In some cases, construction was completed, but the units are sitting vacant because housing agencies have not sold or leased them to a low-income family.

The Post also identified nearly 600 other projects that have never drawn any money despite being earmarked for a year or more, leaving $250 million languishing. HUD has begun canceling those projects.

The Post studied thousands of real estate records, corporate filings, contracts, budgets, loan agreements, mortgages, deeds, appraisals, government e-mails and more than 600 satellite images, and visited construction sites in more than a dozen cities. A reporter contacted 165 housing agencies nationwide to verify the status of more than 1,500 projects.

To trace the life span of the East of the River project, The Post studied thousands of corporate and property records, contracts, deeds, mortgages, loan agreements, bankruptcy filings, tax reports, census data, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development records and internal government documents. The newspaper pulled criminal and civil cases from a dozen courthouses and interviewed displaced tenants, former employees at East of the River Community Development Corp., local developers and landlords.

— Debbie Cenziper

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