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Competition fueling demand for more affordable housing in Buffalo

Mike Desmond

With work starting on a 201-unit affordable housing complex on Ellicott Street, Common Council President Pridgen says this isn't the time to ease the pressure for such housing.

With the continuing economic renaissance locally, rents have surged and much of the traditional housing for low-income and elderly residents has gone away due to gentrification or to site reuse.

There are units being built with limited state and federal funds and developer projects like 201 Ellicott in sight. The Elmwood Crossing complex, which is replacing the old Women and Children's Hospital, will have a sizeable affordable housing component.

Pridgen says there is a need, especially for seniors, but buildings are on the way.

"Some are in the works, but there are some being built. You have two pretty big projects happening on Jefferson [Avenue]. You have the Broadway units going up. You have Westminster getting ready to do a huge project and you have Mt. Aaron's CDC getting ready to do a rather sizeable project," Pridgen said.

Pridgen says the major concern is to ensure a continuing flow of state and federal dollars to make affordable housing possible.
"Our contribution is very small to that and really limited to infrastructure and other things like that, that we can do. But, if the federal government takes a shift in the HUD funding and the programs that have been available and if the state takes a shift, then you will see a downturn in new projects for affordable housing," he said.

Pridgen says there is more competition for those dollars, citing Rochester, which is making much greater efforts to provide affordable housing. The Ellicott District council member says there have been Rochester residents who have come here to see what Buffalo is doing and he has been there to see what the Flower City is doing.

Still, Pridgen says the pressure for more will continue and he says developers come to see him, reporting they have found a way to provide more affordable units.