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Council seeking solution for shadowy slumlords

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Buffalo City Hall is looking for some help from Albany to deal with the persisting problem of slumlords. While slumlords have been a problem for decades, it's getting harder to deal with them by the city because it's harder to figure out who they are. City officials and council members say more and more properties are owned by almost untraceable corporations rather than an individual who can be pinned down.

Not only is it a problem of bad buildings and unpaid taxes, but there can also be thousands of dollars in fines and costs to the city for things like cutting the grass and clearing away garbage.

Now, Council President Darius Pridgen says the goal is for Albany to allow all of those costs to be put onto tax bills in what is being called Project Slumlord.

"Part of this slumlord proposition and bringing people together is that this time, we didn't just put legislation on the books. We're going to bring together the community and the legal minds to find out what it is that we can do before we start doing something," Pridgen says.

If the fees, fines, and costs go on the tax bill, the owner would be under more pressure to pay or give up the property. If the bills aren't paid, the city could foreclose and take over, which might make up for the millions of dollars in unpaid fees and fines.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.