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A firestorm erupted here Thursday over a proposal to move upwards of 50 jobs from Buffalo's federal housing office to New York City.

Under a new management plan being considered by Andrew Cuomo, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Buffalo HUD office would no longer process loan applications and other documents connected with the agency's upstate multifamily housing programs.

Union officials spread the word of the proposal here Thursday, prompting Buffalo's two congressmen to blanket HUD officials with calls and a letter to protest the proposed move.

"The last thing we need is upstate New York decisions being made in New York City," said Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda.

Rep. Jack F. Quinn, R-Hamburg, agreed. He noted that the local HUD office often processes loan applications and other documents in about a month, whereas the New York office takes several months to do the same thing.

"I'm furious," Quinn said. "This could really stymie all the loans, construction, everything."

Quinn and LaFalce expected to collect signatures of all of upstate New York's congressmen on the letter. Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon, a Glens Falls Republican who heads the powerful House Rules Committee, called Cuomo to demand an immediate meeting.

In addition, Mayor Masiello and Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. protested the proposed plan.

Gary H. Kadow, president of the union representing Buffalo HUD employees, learned of the plan at a meeting at HUD headquarters. He said the plan apparently would reduce HUD's employment in Buffalo from about 120 to 70.

The Buffalo cutback is part of Cuomo's overall proposal for streamlining HUD's operations, Kadow said. The number of processing centers for the agency's multifamily housing programs will be cut from 51 to 17, and Kadow said the Buffalo office finished 18th in HUD's ranking of which offices should stay open.

Kadow said he could not understand how the Buffalo office could rank 18th when it routinely finished first or second nationwide in HUD's productivity studies and recently won an award from Vice President Gore for its efficiency.

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