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$14M federal grant funds a busy construction season for BMHA

City of Buffalo
HUD has given the BMHA's Langfield Homes complex poor grades for living conditions.

It’s going to be a big construction season for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, with work going on across the city thanks in part to $14 million annual grant from Washington, DC for repairs and maintenance.

BMHA Executive Director Gillian Brown said it will be a good year for repairs and improvements, and planning is underway for future major improvements across the city-wide system.

"We’re doing millions of dollars worth of work at the Langfield and Kenfield developments," he said. "So Langfield will be getting new roofs and new siding. Kenfield will be getting some masonry repair and other work. There will be site work, new playgrounds, paved parking areas. There’s going to be a lot of work during 2021."

Credit Rep. Brian Higgins
The BMHA's Perry Project is a mix of rented apartments and empty buildings. Conditions described by some as "deplorable" prompted calls for a HUD investigation in 2018.

For much of this spring and summer, commuters on the Niagara section of the state Thruway will also watch major roof repairs on top of the six towers of the BMHA's Perry Project.

"Then we’re also going to be doing a lot of planning work, which is, obviously, not as visible," Brown said.

He said a lot of planning is also being done for Shaffer Village in Riverside.

One BMHA project that will not be affected by this is Marine Drive, because those apartments are a state, not federal, project and the federal dollars cannot be used there. Brown said a firm has been brought in to look at what might be done in the tattered waterfront complex.

Given its prime city location, there has been much speculation about Marine Drive. Nearby residential rents on the waterfront are in the thousands of dollars per month, but not so at the BMHA's property.

"Under $400 a month for a one-bedroom apartment at Marine Drive and that includes utilities, that includes parking, that includes water and that’s all we get for that apartment," he said. "So it is, frankly, as the buildings get older and older, it’s surprising to me that this basically unsustainable model has lasted this long."

The BMHA's Marine Drive apartments are not on the list for federal repair money because it is a state complex.

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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