Future of Low-Income Housing in Buffalo

Mayor Brown & Council President Pridgen weigh in

Mike Baggerman
July 25, 2017 - 3:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - After appointing four new members of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority on Monday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and other city officials discussed what the BMHA needs to do to battle the ongoing housing crisis among low-income individuals.

The BMHA has long been criticized for its effort, or lack of one, to battle the deteriorating Commodore Perry Apartments, Marine Drive Apartments, and other BMHA housing units. 

Mayor Brown said the city is always looking at ways to improve the BMHA.

"We're going to be looking at a variety of different strategies to bring new resources and innovative thinking into the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority," Brown said. "These board members and these volunteer advisors will give us the ability to do that in a very expeditious way."

What that "innovative thinking" is still needs to be introduced by the new board members, who are expected to be confirmed by the Buffalo Common Council on Tuesday. Council President Darius Pridgen discussed some potential ideas such as selling land where people don't live, bringing on units without displacing or taking away opportunities from those with low-income, and he even proposed the idea of community centers doubling as housing.

"There's a lot that needs to be looked at but you've got to have someone to look at it," Pridgen said. 

The mayor discussed the idea of mixed-using housing as a way to assist those with low-income families.

"When people of different income levels are able to live successfully in close proximity to each other, neighborhoods are stronger," he said. "Neighborhoods have more employment options. Neighborhoods have more service options, and working together, and also working with the tenants. Because the tenants must be at the table and the tenants must have a voice in what we do."

Congressman Brian Higgins on June 12 called for the redevelopment of the Commodore Perry Neighborhood but was met with a chorus of criticisms from individuals concerned about being displaced with the idea of mixed-use development. 

"This is just another step to get the poor people out of here," one resident shouted at the congressman during the press conference.

WBEN referred to this incident in a question to the mayor, who acknowledged that those individuals were afraid of being displaced.

"We know that low-income residents want quality, affordable housing options throughout the city just like every member of the community," Brown said. "Through these board members and through this plan and working through the city council, we will make sure there are ample opportunities for low-income residents to have quality, affordable, and safe housing throughout our city."

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