Higgins demands that BMHA turns on water at housing projects

Management has locked outdoor spigots, ordered no access to water for plants or kiddie pools

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is calling for immediate review and reconsideration of a decision to block residents of Frederick Douglass Homes in Buffalo from access to outdoor water. Higgins has heard from multiple residents about this issue and reached out to agencies to try to resolve the urgent matter.

The property is owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) and managed by Cornerstone Property Managers. A letter to residents of Frederick Douglass I & III dated May 26, 2020 from the Frederick Douglass Management Team included the following directive:

“As a reminder, there is no access to the water spigots outside your homes. If we have not locked/removed your spigot – please refrain from using it.  Please be advised that Cornerstone does not allow the use of pools on the property.  Please use a canister to water your outside plants.”

Higgins said, “Access to water is always essential for health and safety but especially critical during a pandemic and heatwave.  Refusing water connections is unjustifiable and cruel. Bottom line – there is absolutely no good reason to cut off water to residents.  This has to be resolved.” 

Frederick Douglass I and III are designated for moderate to low incomes residents whose income is at or below 60% of the region’s median income, not exceeding between approximately $32,000 and $68,000 depending on household size. Residents pay between $542 and $1,042 per month for rent based on unit size.

In a letter to the BMHA Higgins writes, “The concern continues as residents of the Frederick Douglass Townhouses report their outdoor water spigots have been capped as well.  And, it has been conveyed to me that water is included in the townhouse leases.”

Higgins goes on to question the logic of limiting access to water, “Amid a global pandemic and rising summer temperatures, I must question the logic and legality of this decision. The management company for the BMHA made the decision? Was there no role for the BMHA and its Board to actively engage with residents as to the problem before a memo was sent saying the outside water spigots would be disconnected?”

The development has received state and federal support through public dollars and tax credits but the most consistent investor in this community has been the residents, who pay rent.  The BMHA recently received more than $2.847 million in additional emergency funding to support management, maintenance, and resident services during the COVID crisis.

A complete copy of the Congressman’s letter to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is available here.

1 Comment

  1. Higgins questions the logic? How about money. I’ve watched management companies take advantage of people trapped in such housing, they are at their mercy, perpetuating a cycle of “broken windows” when there is no quality of life beyond providing nothing more than substandard food/clothing/shelter to these people. And people wonder why people can’t rise above these situations and “support themselves?” Get real, they’re set up to fail while a blind eye is turned and these management companies reap the financial benefits.

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