Appoint more tenants as BMHA commissioners
A recent News editorial suggested that the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development step in to clean up the mess at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, given the BMHA’s history of cronyism and perhaps willful neglect. While HUD has indicated that it will not take over in the immediate future, it has blasted “substandard management” for the unacceptable vacancies and dilapidated state of the properties. Meanwhile, in a letter, Joe Mascia, an elected BMHA commissioner, has ridiculed the idea of mayoral control of the School Board, given the mayor’s poor record in appointing BMHA commissioners.
If the mayor is looking to improve the BMHA, he might start by appointing more tenants as commissioners. While there are two elected tenant commissioners, nothing would stop him from choosing tenants for the slots he controls, as well. As the people who actually live in the BMHA developments, the tenants have every incentive to fill the vacancies with good neighbors, improve the BMHA’s finances and promptly address the deteriorated conditions. No one knows the properties and their issues better than the residents themselves.
Now, we could just keep clamoring for HUD involvement, but replacing a system of crony-flavored bureaucracy with distant federal control sounds like more of the same. Sure, a federally appointed board might not dish out unnecessary fees for in-house legal work to Hodgson Russ LLP, but it still will not know the BMHA as well as its tenants.
Ammad W. Rafiqi