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Delinquent tenants face eviction

Marine Drive Apartments residents who owe thousands of dollars in back rent are facing eviction under a sweeping housecleaning initiative.

Since Erie Regional Housing Development Corp. took over management of Marine Drive, about 60 residents have been put through the eviction process and so far 25 have been evicted, said Henry M. Littles, the general manager.

The others either moved out before they could be evicted, or they paid up their rent.

Littles was hired by Erie Regional Housing Development Corp. in January 2007, when the company started managing the downtown apartment complex on the waterfront, which is owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

About a year ago, Erie Regional hired Kevin Gaughan, known as a regionalism activist, to handle the eviction process, BMHA Board Chairman Michael Seaman said.

The help was needed, Littles added.

When Erie Regional came aboard, finances were in disarray. There was an outstanding water bill for more than $1 million. Other bill delinquencies exceeded $250,000. And the tenants of about 60 apartments in the 616-unit development were at least a year behind in rent, Littles said.

The delinquent rents were a big problem because Marine Drive, which receives no subsidies, pays its bills from the rents it receives.

"The rent revenue is close to $3 million annually and our bills are about equal," said Littles, adding that some of the tenants' outstanding balances were at $7,000.

"That's not even delinquent. That's just basically squatting in the apartment," he said.

Added Gaughan: "There are people who owe $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000. We've evicted about 25 people who haven't paid rent at all. About four are left who we're trying to work with."

Hutchens-Kissling, a management company, ran Marine Drive from 2004 to 2006, when residents spearheaded its termination through a letter-writing campaign. Residents had complained about the run-down condition of the complex.

e-mail: dswilliams@buffnews.com

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