Millions of federal dollars will flow into Buffalo from Washington to make public housing here more lean and less mean.
On Tuesday, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority was awarded $28 million to demolish three-quarters of the buildings at Lakeview Homes. The federally funded development on the city's Lower West Side will lose 554 of its 666 apartment units to the wrecking ball.
In their place, 200 senior citizen apartments will go up, along with 83 private houses and apartments. A complete renovation is the destiny of the remaining 112 Lakeview units. The project is slated to start next spring and should be completed in about five years.
At a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Masiello said the goal is to "create a neighborhood and eliminate a housing project."
"No longer will we isolate and stigmatize low income residents by sticking them in sterile, traditional housing projects," Masiello said.
The move toward smaller public housing projects in cities across the country reflects the goals of the Clinton administration, which last year criticized public housing as breeding grounds for crime and monuments of hopelessness.
"We are creating a new concept of public housing for the new century," Cuomo said. "Besides moving blighted public housing from the urban landscape, we will breathe new life into cities by building safe neighborhoods that will attract more businesses, more jobs and more residents."
The administration also seeks to move 20,000 public housing residents into home ownership in two years. Locally HUD is embarking, with BMHA, on moving some families into private homes.
But essentially, said Sharon West, Housing Authority executive director, the grant will enable the authority to transform Lakeview by reducing the population density by more than half, increasing green space and reconfiguring Lakeview so it is indistinguishable from the surrounding neighborhood.
She said the authority also seeks to lessen the concentration of poverty at Lakeview by offering up to 100 Section 8 certificates to residents that would let them move anywhere within the region. The Housing Authority is set to demolish 300 units at the Commodore Perry Homes and has already razed 102 at A.D. Price.
A decade ago, HUD spent a total of $56 million to renovate units there and at Lakeview.