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Tenant leaders and BMHA officials optimistic heading in to 2019

Interactions with Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority leaders have been tense in recent months with elevator issues and infrastructure concerns at several of their apartment buildings. Today’s BMHA meeting offered some optimism heading in to the new year.BMHA Advisory Board Chairman and Lakeview Family Homes Tenant Council President Renato Graham said he’s seen more interactions as of late between leaders and residents.

“They showed up to the Perry Projects meeting. So that was a good sign that they were going to fulfill their obligations to us. We’re going to go forward (and) write proposals,” Graham said.

Each tenant council has a memorandum of understanding with the Housing Authority to meet with their executive director as well as the commissioners and management on a regular basis.

Graham has been chairman of the advisory board for about three months and wants to meet on a monthly basis to make sure they are a more vocal part of the process moving forward.

BMHA Chairman David Rodriguez didn’t hear from many angry residents at today’s meeting, but said they have right to be frustrated.

“Trust is earned and we are going to be judged by our actions,”Rodriguez said. “All I ask is for a little more patience and see what are actions are. And then we’ll ask for the trust. We expect to earn it.”

Patience is also what Housing Authority Executive Director Gillian Brown has asked for. Both of them have held their positions for less than a year, but Graham, who has been chairman of the Advisory Board for about three months, wants to meet on a monthly basis to make sure they are a more vocal part of the process moving forward.

“He said in the council meeting there’s 20,000 complaints,” Graham said referring to a comment by Executive Director Brown. “No we’re not going to give him a chance in the sense of sit back and wait to see what he does. “We want to meet on a monthly basis to make sure we are part of the process. We want to work together with him. Not stand back and watch and see what’s going to happen.”

Rodriguez said for the long term, they want to put together a five year plan to attack the immediate needs before moving forward.

“Where is our portfolio now? We don’t know. We know where it is physically, but we don’t know where it is heading,” he said. “We don’t have a BMHA wide strategy. A plan if you will. There’s the administrative plan that we submit to HUD every year, but we really need to look at it as a board and where want to bring the BMHA. What do we want to do for our residents? How are we going to address the poverty in our developments?”

Rodriguez said it takes partnerships with other agencies to make improvements with their limited funds, but that the BMHA has to help themselves first before reaching out.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.