NEW YORK CITY - Cheap rent is hard to find in New York City, but a new audit finds people who make good money are living in affordable housing.
Niani Taylor works on Wall Street as an executive assistant, and she rents her own place in Brownsville. But she was not surprised to learn just how many other New Yorkers are living in Manhattan but getting a much better deal.
"I'm saying in New York City, people have been skirting the rules forever," executive assistant Niani Taylor said. "All of New York City is not affordable, and you have to find a deal when you can find a deal. I think that's what they did."
The audit from the New York State Comptroller's Office highlights the problem and suggests that in so-called 80-20 buildings (where developers get financial breaks for designating 20 percent of a building as "low income"), as many as a third of the tenants have incomes above eligibility requirements.
In fact, the audit found 167 of them making $100,000 or more and eight making $250,000 or more.
Ann Williams lives in subsidized housing and knows many others who actually need it.
"I think it's pretty messed up, because people is living in the streets and housing is so expensive," she said. "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and there's nothing we can do about it."
The audit also highlights some abusers, including one tenant in Chelsea who reported an income of about $25,000 to get in but allegedly lied about Social Security numbers for children to meet eligibility requirements. As of 2012, his reported income is a whopping $238,000.
A group representing 25,000 New York City landlords says it's proof of what they've argued all along.
"We see what happens when government tries to regulate the market," said Jack Freund, of the Rent Stabilization Association. "It declares winners and losers, and it's a very poorly designed system."
They say that's because once you're in an 80-20 building, you have every right to stay there and live affordably no matter how much money you may make.