City leaders move forward with plan to tackle rising rent in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Buffalo’s real estate market is booming but it’s forcing some people to leave their homes. After months of demonstrations and meetings at City Hall, the Common Council is moving forward with a possible solution.

The Council has asked the city’s lawyers to draw up an ordinance for inclusionary zoning in Buffalo to prevent lower income tenants from being priced out of their neighborhoods.

“We’re excited that inclusionary zoning appears to be moving forward in Buffalo,” said Aaron Bartley, the executive director of PUSH Buffalo.

PUSH is one of many local organizations who called for the ordinance as rents surge across the city.

“If you look up and down Niagara Street there are five or six new buildings all at that $1,200,$1,300, $1,400 a month rent and so that trend is not really reversible at this point,” said Bartley.

He said they want an inclusionary zoning law that says when a new housing development is built, with more than a dozen apartments, 30 percent of the apartments would be below market rate. They want it to apply to developments subsidized by taxpayers.

“It’s time for us to ensure that rents are reasonable in Buffalo,” said Bartley.

North District Common Council Member Joseph Golombek told News 4 that determining the percentage of housing units to go towards low income renters will be tricky. He said based on his district, 30 percent seems too high.

“The district I represent, we have an overabundance of housing that is subsidized and below market rate so many of my residents have pushed for more market rate housing,” said Golombek.

He’s also concerned that requiring some lower rents could make it too expensive for developers to transform vacant buildings into apartments.

Despite that, Golombek said rising rent is a problem and he voted along with the rest of the Council to move forward with inclusionary zoning.

“We would like to have people that live in neighborhoods, stay in those neighborhoods, and not be forced out,” said Golombek.

The details of the inclusionary zoning ordinance will be worked out after the city’s lawyer finishes the draft this summer.

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