Share this article

print logo

New management takes over Jan. 1 at Marine Drive housing

Erie Regional Housing Development Corp. will take charge of Marine Drive apartments on Jan. 1.

The Board of Commissioners for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority terminated its management contract Thursday with Hutchens-Kissling Marine Drive Apartments, as it promised the Buffalo Common Council in September.

"This will be a fresh approach. In the long term, we're hoping for resident management," Commissioner Joseph Mascia said.

Residents had complained about the management company and the run-down condition of the complex during the two years Hutchens-Kissling operated it, along with crime problems, lax security, and mice and roach infestation.

Earlier this year, the residents council of the 616-unit public housing complex spearheaded the termination of the Hutchens-Kissling contract.

"We had a letter-writing campaign because of the concerns," said Mascia, the tenant-elected commissioner. "We simply were not pleased."

The new management company, Erie Regional, will take over for the short term -- less than a year -- officials said. The contract is being negotiated, "but we know they will be cheaper," said Gillian Brown, the BMHA's interim executive director.

The seven-building complex between Memorial Auditorium and Erie Basin Marina has been the focus of controversy for years.

In 2004, the city hired Hutchens-Kissling to run Marine Drive, ending a 40-year tenant co-op arrangement following allegations of unfair admission practices that discouraged minorities and favored those with political ties.

An annual audit done by Lumsden & McCormick certified public accountants and presented to the board during Thursday's meeting also raised the following concerns about operations of Marine Drive under Hutchens-Kissling:

* Travel reimbursements for accounting staff lacked adequate supporting documents.

* A large number of petty cash reimbursements lacked receipts.

* Several vouchers were entered incorrectly and others were paid in incorrect amounts.

* The staff does not have adequate knowledge of the accounting software to allow for properly recorded transactions;

* Tenant accounts receivable have been outstanding for an extended period of time.

Also Thursday, officials announced the board will interview nine candidates for the post of executive director.

Commissioner Betty Calvo-Torres presented a $200 check donated by the Minority Bar Association of Western New York toward the purchase of holiday toys for children of families who live in public housing.

e-mail: dswilliams@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment