BUFFALO, NY - Mayor Byron Brown announced a major shakeup at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) Monday, appointing four new members to its Board of Commissioners.
Hizzoner also asked members of the Common Council to act quickly in confirming his new appointment before the council takes its August recess.
“I think the BMHA has some challenges…I wouldn't stand here and pretend that they don't," said Common Council President Darius Pridgen, who predicted lawmakers will approve the new board members when they meet on Tuesday.
The BMHA stands as “Buffalo’s biggest landlord” with 10,000 tenants in its public housing units throughout the city.
The Mayor appoints five of the seven members of its Board of Commissioners. The other two are voted on by tenants.
Brown recently asked for and received the resignations of three board members, replacing them, and appointing a fourth member to fill a current vacancy.
“We are we going to look at a variety of different ways to improve the operations," Brown said during a news conference to announce the changes at City Hall on Monday.
Operations at the BMHA have been roundly criticized by tenants and lawmakers, such as Fillmore District Common Council Member David Franzcyk.
The new board members include two lawyers, one of whom is a director of housing and project management for not for profit, and another who serves as the chief attorney for the NFTA.
Brown also appointed his own Urban Renewal Director and his Deputy Commissioner of Buildings and Energy Management to serve.
Brown said the changes were needed to reflect anticipated changes in “funding structures and resources that are flowing to public housing” under the administration of President Donald Trump.
“This will require us to be more innovative,” said Brown. “The cumulative experience of these (new) board members will help steer the BMHA into the ranks of the most progressive and modernized public housing authorities in the country."
Brown’s opponent Mark Schroeder in the upcoming Democratic mayoral primary, however, sees the move by the current mayor as an election year ploy.
“There's 50 days to go until the democratic primary, so he (Brown) made his announcement today, in his 12th year as mayor? He runs the BMHA period. It's a shadow government and he controls it," Schroeder said.
Asked if the new board majority would seek to remove current BMHA Executive Director Dawn Sanders, whose tenure has come under criticism and who is currently working without a contract, Mayor Brown replied: “The current Executive Director will continue as the Executive Director of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.”
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