BMHA gets grilled over heat and hot water problems

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo Common Council has launched an investigation into the operations of two public housing complexes which are being managed by a private firm the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority hired for the job.

City lawmakers, specifically Council President Darius Pridgen, have been getting tattooed with complaints from residents of the two developments, Frederick Douglass Towers and apartments and A.D. Price.

The president of A.D. Price’s tenant council, Johnnie Jackson said residents are getting frustrated with the BMHA and the management firm, Shinda Management Corporation, “There’s quite a few things that we are trying to get solved and our answers are not coming in. No one is solving the problem.”

A top executive for Shinda confirmed that the management company fielded 176 complaints over a three-month period, just from the two complexes, with most of the issues concerning heat or hot water, but most of the complaints were not resolved.

Shinda’s Executive Vice President Lisa Walker told city lawmakers the heating systems at the two complexes are antiquated—so old housing officials can’t get replacement parts to perform repairs–and the BMHA plans to replace them.

Walker said the BMHA has put limits on paying for repairs, and tenants are refusing to leave units even when there is no heat, “If someone’s heat goes down tomorrow, and I don’t have the heating units and the ‘vacants’ that we have, and they don’t want to go to a hotel, what would happen?”

But it was the BMHA that ended up in the hot seat, as council members found housing authority officials seemed to be giving Shinda mixed messages, and put Modesto Candelario, BMHA’s Assistant Director, on the defensive.

“We are not going to not provide heat or hot water to a family. If there is no other alternative, we will then move on, making the expenditure.”

Pridgen, whose Ellicott District encompasses Douglass and Price, demanded better responses for the public housing residents, “This should never happen in 2018 in the United States of America. People without money deserve quick turnover and changes.”

Council members still did not seem to get the answers they were looking for. North District Councilmember Joseph Golombek chaired the meeting of the council’s Community Development Committee, and called for another hearing very soon.

Golombek was adamant about BMHA Executive Director Dawn Sanders-Garrett attending the next one.

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