Representing financially distressed low-income cooperatives in all boroughs

Increasing affordable housing units in New York City is a two-pronged effort involving both the construction of new units and the preservation of existing affordable units. Brooklyn Law School students are in the forefront of the preservation effort in the Corporate and Real Estate Clinic which provides free legal assistance for financially distressed low-income cooperatives.

Students gain unique transactional experience, learn to resolve title issues, review and negotiate loan documents, draft and negotiate contracts of sale, conduct closings, advise board of directors, and organize shareholder meetings.

Corporate & Real Estate Clinic Course Listing

Legal Assistance

This clinic provides free legal assistance for low-income cooperatives, also known as Housing Development Fund Corporations or HDFCs, where many of the City’s affordable units are found. Approximately twenty-five of these co-ops in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx—representing over 400 units of housing—receive help each year from eight to ten students each semester.

The clinic does not handle any litigation, but students do assist with:

  • Loan closings (to pay for rehabilitation work and tax arrears)
  • Shareholder meetings (for elections, by-law and proprietary lease amendments, and approvals of regulatory agreements)
  • Unit closings on behalf of co-op boards (either when the co-op owns the unit or is acting as transfer agent when a shareholder sells). The clinic generally does not represent individual buyers and sellers
  • No-action letters and building transfers for not-for-profit HDFCs seeking to become business corporations
  • Consultations regarding policies and other on-going issues
  • Applications for real estate tax forgiveness and real estate tax caps
  • Removal of expired mortgages and agreements with the City
  • Once or twice a year students also present seminars for numerous co-op board members and shareholders on current issues of concern
Debra Bechtel 

New York City Low-Income Cooperatives: A Guide for Practitioners

By Debra Bechtel

Read the article


Professor Debra Bechtel, Director

250 Joralemon Street Brooklyn, NY

(718) 780-7994
(718) 532-2417