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BMHA talks of agencywide change after Langfield Homes failed inspection

Reaction to a failed federal inspection at one of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority's larger housing developments continued Tuesday, with the head of the financially struggling agency saying he's looking to change the way the authority operates.

A wide range of work is underway at Langfield Homes – everything from fixing falling siding to parking lot pavement and playgrounds, BMHA Interim Executive Director Gillian Brown told Common Council members, who invited him to their chambers to discuss the Langfield Homes failed inspection.

Beyond the work at Langfield, Brown said, some agencywide changes are planned.

As many as 10 to 12 new staff will be hired, and some new positions will be created, Brown said.

"We are hiring more people – laborers, general mechanics," Brown said.

There will also be some staff restructuring, he said.

"Some changes are afoot that will result in more supervision and better accountability," Brown said.

Brown declined to provide further details of the restructuring, which he said will be discussed at a BMHA board meeting later this week.

Brown also said the BMHA is assessing playground areas at its properties. "We hope to do authoritywide work on playgrounds," he told the Council members.

In addition, Brown told the Council that barriers are being installed on streets around the vacant Commodore Perry row houses where dumping has been occurring. Brown has previously said the BMHA also plans to install motion-sensitive lights in the area as well as no-dumping signs.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, recently drove around the Perry complex and found piles of debris dumped outside the vacant units. The BMHA cleaned up the debris, but the dumping has continued, Brown said.

Higgins' trip to the Perry complex was prompted by a June 3 story in The Buffalo News detailing inspection scores of BMHA developments.

The article reported that Langfield Homes flunked a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspection with a score of 46 out of 100. It was one of six inspections the BMHA failed in the past five years, and the lowest score the agency received during that time. The inspection was conducted in 2018, when HUD also inspected Kenfield, which flunked with a 54. Kenfield and Langfield are both located in East Buffalo, in the Kenfield neighborhood off Bailey Avenue. The two developments have a total of about 1,000 apartments.

That story also noted that the occupied row houses at the Commodore Perry apartments flunked a 2015 inspection with a score of 52.

University District Councilman Rasheed N.C. Wyatt, whose district represents the Kenfield and Langfield homes, told BMHA officials that housing authority residents tell him that the BMHA isn't responsive to their complaints.

BMHA residents feel like no one cares about them, Wyatt said.

Brown, the BMHA attorney, was appointed interim executive director after Dawn Sanders-Garrett abruptly left in mid-March after heading the agency for 10 years. The BMHA board is currently conducting a nationwide search for someone to replace Sanders-Garrett.

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