In the midst of an ongoing affordable housing crisis, the city has been searching for ways to keep the city’s homeless population from ballooning even further through initiatives like Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious Housing New York Plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years. But what happens when high-income renters score affordable homes under false pretenses? Apparently, nothing.
Take the case of investment banker David Sans, for example. According to the NY Daily News, Sans scored a $722/month two-bedroom in a luxe Chelsea building after claiming to have a salary of $24,725. Sans initially applied as a single renter, but after being deemed ineligible, he listed two dependents, a niece and nephew, to help him qualify for the apartment. The social security numbers he provided were eventually traced back to a senior citizen in California and a nine-year-old girl in Iowa, by the way. Tax returns from 2011 and upward show that Sans has sustained a six-figure salary, earning as much as $456,500, while still living in his low-income apartment with his wife (who he was married to when he applied but says they were separated).
It wasn’t until a recent audit released by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s situation came to light but he’s not alone. As of December 2015, there were 160 renters who earned over $100,000 annually living in low-income apartments; eight of them made over $250,000.
The problem is that once a tenant qualifies for affordable housing, they cannot be removed should their income increase. As for the New Yorkers who could direly benefit from these units, well they are SOL.
After giving multiple variations of his side of the story to the Daily News, Sans admitted that no nephew ever lived with him and that he was indeed married at the time he applied for the apartment. He then proceeded to request a transfer to a smaller apartment. His final words on the situation:
“The system doesn’t say when you make more money, you have to leave. It doesn’t. It’s not designed like that. It’s designed to help people that don’t make money. So if I don’t make money within a period of time — what am I going to do when I do make money? Just leave?”
We guess not.