Rehab mess: neighbors blow the whistle on new neighbor’s remodeling trash

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Garbage was piling up behind an apartment house on Crowley Avenue, in Buffalo’s Riverside neighborhood, so Renee Asher posted pictures of the mess on Facebook, graphic images that connected with the Common Council and Call 4 Action.

An investor from New York City just bought the property from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) back in December, and decided to do some remodeling, but when the rehab project led to a pile of trash, Asher and her neighbors noticed it was drawing big rats.

Holding her hands about 8” apart in front of her, Renee said the rats are about that size, and worries that her friends’ dogs are essentially controlling the rats in a way that could expose the dogs to rodent-borne disease.

“They are probably about this big, and the dogs that I live next door with, they probably killed about 4 of them.’

Renee tried blowing the whistle on the hazard and called the city’s 311 Information Line, but it was the pictures she took and posted on Facebook that seemed to get things moving into high gear.

They caught the eye of North District Common Council member Joseph Golombek, “It was disgusting, absolutely should not look like that. People should not have to be forced to live next to a house like that.”

Golombek said when HUD is involved in a property transaction, city inspectors will generally give a private owner about 6 months to get the property under control. The complaints started, Golombek said, about two weeks ago, and on Tuesday city housing inspectors summoned the owner to Buffalo Housing Court for code violations.

It is admirable that the new owner is improving the property, Golombek said, but the pile of trash seems to indicate work crews are disregarding the city’s garbage pick up, and the large garbage totes.

“That garbage could have been put out once a week in the garbage bins, and there would be nothing back there, but that just shows me that you have people doing fly-by-night work in the City of Buffalo and I am not happy with it.”

Neighbors even offered to cut the high grass for a few bucks, but now that the city is going to do it, it is going to cost the owner a whole lot more because they are going to send a crew out here, and then send him the bill.

Now the Mayor’s Impact Team is set to start work within the next few days. That is welcome news for Asher who said, her efforts are all about protecting people and pets from the rats.

“My dogs have been to a vet, they got checked up, they got their shots to make sure they are okay, but you never know.”

The New York-based property owner told News 4 by phone he is going to let the Mayor’s Impact Team clean up the pile of garbage, and he will pay for it.

But the owner did not seem to understand if a city crew cleans up his property, it can be expensive, and he will have to pay additional fines and court costs. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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