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Schumer calls for review of conditions at Towne Gardens

Sen. Charles E. Schumer on Thursday urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the living conditions and management at the Towne Gardens Apartments on Buffalo’s East Side. In a letter to HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Schumer said residents of the federally subsidized apartment complex at Clinton Street and Jefferson Avenue have complained to him about broken toilets, mold, leaking roofs, insufficient heat and parking lot lights that have been inoperable for months.

At one point this past winter, he said the U.S. Postal Service was forced to stop delivering mail because of unplowed pathways that proved hazardous for postal employees.

Last October, a sewer backed up into one woman’s apartment, he said, and the sewage was not cleaned up for more than a week.

“We need the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to be the cop on the beat when it comes to protecting vulnerable families and seniors at this federally subsidized complex,” Schumer said.

“HUD must do a top-to-bottom inspection of the numerous quality-of-life and health complaints by tenants and order improvements ASAP.”

Schumer, D-N.Y., noted that staff from the Buffalo HUD office conducted a two-day review of management and occupancy at Towne Gardens on Tuesday and Wednesday, investigating conditions at five of the more than 300 apartments.

“The mini-inspection by HUD is a first step in the right direction, but more in-depth inspection is needed to fix the allegations of substandard living conditions at this complex,” he said.

The City of Buffalo filed a summons last month in Buffalo Housing Court against Towne Gardens LLC, the New York City-based owner of the complex, for five alleged housing code violations found by city inspectors in March.

The violations included no lights or burned-out lights in the parking lots and on the apartment exteriors, broken windows, automatic door locks that don’t work and missing aluminum siding and gutters. At least 90 more violations were found during the March inspection blitz and are in the process of being added to the summons.

Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen, who represents the Ellicott District where the Towne Gardens are located, said Schumer’s office contacted his office and asked if there was anything the senator could do to help the residents. “I am thrilled he is involved,” Pridgen said.

Meanwhile, the owner is working on correcting the violations. Attorneys for the owner and city will report on the work to Housing Court Judge Patrick M. Carney on July 2.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com