Operation Slumlord to Begin Next Week

Identifying the ten worst property owners in Buffalo's Ellicott District

Mike Baggerman
June 15, 2018 - 3:00 am

Operation Slumlord. This home is located on Orange Street in the Fruit Belt (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Ten of the worst property owners in Buffalo's Ellicott District will be put on notice by the end of the summer in an initiative which will begin next week: Operation Slumlord.

Operation Slumlord will put neglectful property owners on notice with the erection of a large sign with their name and address prominently displayed.

"This is not for a senior citizen who may be having a hard time, who pays their taxes, who has a gutter fallen down" Ellicott District Councilman Darius Pridgen said. "People don't need to call me on those. This is for people who have consistently and constantly skirted around the system, have these houses or businesses up with boards on them, not cutting the grass, and all kinds of violations. I'm going to give you a gift from the Ellicott District."

Pridgen said he's asking his constituents to identify the worst property owners, who will be evaluated in collaboration with the Department of Inspections and housing court.

"When these slumlords come into neighborhoods, they make their money and often times abandon their properties," he added. "I don't care whether it's commercial or whether it's residential. At the end of the day, they have a responsibility to keep up those properties. The people who live, work, and play around those properties have every right to know who is not taking care of the properties."

He said those slumlords should feel ashamed for the way they took care of property.

"I can promise you the majority of slumlords, when we put those addresses up, they don't live in houses like they've left in these blighted communities," Pridgen said.

Run-down home on Orange Street in City of Buffalo (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

One property was put on notice each of the last two years. The first property was demolished by the city while the second property owner attempted to rehab the home but failed and is now selling it.

"The punishment depends on the courts," Pridgen said. "Once it goes over to housing court it's what the judge would give them. One of the property owners in the Ellicott District that is derelict, the city requested jail time."

The Buffalo Common Council approved Operation Slumlord on Wednesday.

"We welcome good landowners," Pridgen said. "We even work with them when they hit a rough patch. But those who simply buy and abandon land in this city and leave that blight and go to their home, wherever they live, will not be tolerated."

Mayor Byron Brown supports Pridgen's initiative and noted that there's a bill in the New York State Legislature which would roll housing court violations and fines onto the tax bill of the absentee owned properties.

"We should be able to take those properties from those slumlords...so I agree whole-heartedly and I believe the bill we have moving through the state legislature, if it is passed this year, will give us an additional tool to put strong pressure on problem properties and absentee landlords who don't care about the neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo," Brown said. 

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