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Rents rising at BMHA apartments

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Residents of the Marine Drive Apartments face massive rent increases under new rates for units in the Waterfront facility.

Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Commissioner Joe Mascia spoke last night at a meeting in the Merriweather Library sponsored by County Legislator Betty Jean Grant.

Under the rents on a form he distributed, the lowest monthly rent would rise from $305 to $465, with other rents rising proportionately. He says the BMHA management claims the increase will pay for $42 million in needed repairs but they won't specify what those are, even to a commissioner.

Mascia says it's really an attempt to get poor people off the Waterfront.

"Anybody should be able to live on the water. I don't care what your income is. So, if your income is your certain level, you should be able to live there," Mascia said.

"It isn't just the rich and the wealthy who live on the other side of Erie Street, down on Waterfront Village. Now, they want to take over a place where people of modest income want to live."

Mascia says the Marine Drive complex used to pay for itself and now a consultant says it needs those $42 million in repairs. He says as a retired construction worker, brick and concrete buildings can't be that deteriorated and it's just a way to sell the buildings or knock them down and replace them with expensive condos.

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.