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Interim Executive Director appointed to BMHA top post

Mike Desmond

The Buffalo Municpal Housing Authority has stayed in-house, making Interim Executive Director Gillian Brown its permanent director.
Brown will be making a salary of up to $135,000 a year. Since Dawn Sanders-Garrett resigned from the top post in March and Brown was given the temporary job, he has made major changes in the operation, with the encouragement of the authority board. That includes bargaining a contract with AFSCME Local 264, representing workers, the first pact since 2011.

Authority Chairman David Rodriguez characterizes Brown as a "good, strong leader " and said Brown's track record and performance since March was a key to the BMHA's choice.

"One of the considerations was the learning curve. One of the benefits of having someone like Gillian is the historical knowledge that he brought to bear," Rodriguez said. "As you know, he was there before we were there. With the prior administration, he served as general counsel and interim executive director."

Rodriguez said Brown has marching orders to get with the board's two priorities, leading with getting more vacant properties filled.

"And, obviously, improve operations. Those are the two primary. They go hand in hand," Rodriguez said. "We need to improve the operations to really address the issues. These are longterm issues that have afflicted the housing authority, such as low occupany rates, turning the units around."

Rodriguez said managing and operating housing isn't "rocket science."

"Put yourself in the tenant's shoes. What do you expect when you go home? Do you expect that your grass is going to be cut or you cut it yourself? Do you expect that if you're a tenant, that your plumbing will be fixed if you need it? That you are not going to have a leaky roof because you're paying rent?" he said. "There are all quality-of-life small issues, but if they are allowed to pile on, then they become bigger issues."

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.
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