Control board rejects BMHA financial plan, renewing threat of federal receivership

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority’s 2016-2019 Financial Plan has been rejected by the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. The Financial Plan had been architected by Hal Payne, the Buffalo State College administrator who is a close personal friend of Mayor Byron Brown, and approved by BMHA’s board of commissioners without full board review.

Rejection of the plan renews the prospect of federal receivership. Earlier this year, federal officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development required that the agency take decisive action to fix longstanding mismanagement, or face a potential takeover of the agency’s 8,000 housing units.

The action by the BFSA is seen by obverses as a vindication of housing commissioner Joe Mascia, an outspoken critic of the agency’s administration and a fierce advocate for public housing tenants. The move comes as BMHA administrators and political operative Joel Giambra target Mascia for political retribution.

Mascia was unknowingly recorded earlier this year in an apparent set up with Paul Christopher, who prodded Mascia to use a racial slur against African Americans. Mascia has apologized profusely since the recording surfaced late last week.

The employment contract of Dawn Sanders-Garrett has not been renewed in the aftermath of a scathing evaluation from HUD officials. Insiders at the authority expect her to “phase out” of her role as Executive Director of the agency over the next several months, though no public announcements have been made regarding a leadership transition.