THE BRONX - Local leaders are creating a task force designed to stop buyouts of Mitchell-Lama affordable housing landlords.

According to officials, the Bronx has lost about 20,000 units of Mitchell-Lama housing over the past 30 years. Mitchell-Lama is a program that provides middle-income residents with affordable housing.

State Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene supports a Bronx Mitchell-Lama task force that will give tenants access to housing documents. She says the move will provide tenants with ample time to act if their landlord wants to sell. Residents claim when landlords leave, families and the elderly are forced to pay rents they can?t afford.

Bronx state Senator Jose Serrano also believes in the value of the task force.

"If anyone thinks that this is going to be a playground for the wealthy, they?re fooling themselves," Serrano said.

Some residents claim landlords are trying to get out of Mitchell-Lama before their contract ends. However, incentives such as the J-51 tax abatement opportunity may entice landlords to stay. It provides funding to fix up buildings only if landlords are willing to stay in the Mitchell-Lama program for an additional 15 years.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. announced an office for the task force will be set up on E. 161st Street. He says a full-time housing specialist will be hired to work with the tenants? association.