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March 9, 2011 - 12:17pm

Housing Authority director critical of proposed development off Stringham Drive

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Housing Authority, Stringham Drive.

The developer of a proposed housing project in the Stringham Drive area of Batavia is misleading the public, according to a letter written by the director of the Batavia Housing Authority.

Gregory Langen sent a letter to Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post on March 8 and blasted Chatham & Nathaniel Development Corp. for not being completely upfront about planning a low-income housing project.

The letter includes a resolution passed by the BHA board of directors opposing the project.

Chatham & Nathaniel have been pushing for approval of a 19-home development that they have claimed will be open to all buyers, not just qualified low-income residents. They've tried to leave the impression that taxpayers won't foot the bill for the development.

In fact, according to Langen, a letter from Chatham & Nathaniel soliciting support from PathStone (the local Section 8 administrator), says preference in selection of tenants for 100 percent of the units will be low-income.

The project, Langen wrote, will be funded through $3.5 million in low-income housing tax credits, $2.4 million in New York State Home Funds and $158,000 in deferred developer fees.

"I believe this contradicts the public testimony of the developers that the project would be funded through private conventional financing," Langen writes. "In fact, this is to be a publicly financed project in the form of tax credits."

Because of New York low-income property tax rules, according to Langen, local taxpayers will also help subsidize each home occupied by a low-income family.

All of this, Langen wrote, at a time when there is simply no demand for more low-income housing in Batavia, especially for family housing of this magnitude.

BHA has no appreciable waiting list, and there is no unmet demand for low-income family housing.

"Rather than make low-income residents move to Batavia from other communities in order to be housed (and transferring that burden to the local Department of Social Services), it would make more sense to construct the subsidized housing in the communities where there is a current unmet need," Langen wrote.

Langen is also critical for a Chatham & Nathaniel reference to providing low-income housing for veterans.

"I question the need for yet another housing program for homeless veterans in Batavia when the VA is opening its own," Langen wrote. "The needs assessment identified 17 homeless veterans served in Rochester and Buffalo but does not identify the number, if any, in Batavia. While the BHA is proud to serve veterans in all of our facilities, we are aware of only one homeless veteran applicant in many years. That person was only considered homeless as a result of a pending divorce and his wife asking him to move. The BHA housed him successfully."

BHA currently operates 49 low-income units of three and four bedrooms.  Langen said all of them -- in the north, south and east sections of Batavia -- are clean and maintenance requests are completed in one day.

"There are many communities where there are long waiting lists of publicly subsidized housing," Langen wrote. "Low-income housing tax credits should be invested in those communities."

Shawn Maher
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So, we don't need it. We don't want it. It doesn't help us at all since we don't have the people to fill it. And they want us to pay for it but weren't going to tell us we're paying for it? And they stand to make a ton of money? Is that correct?
Lisa Falkowski
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We may not need low income housing for "families," but there are plenty of low income singles who need decent housing!! Why does BHS keep forgetting that? We have a HUGE population whose housing needs are NOT met! So, owning a home is not the answer, but there does need to be more affordable housing for disabled, 20-60, in this and our surrounding counties!
John Roach
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Lisa, Are you suggesting that the taxpayers pay the rent for "low income" singles? If so, how much should we pay?
dennis wight
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How many is a HUGE population of low income singles, Lisa? If there are a HUGE population, why should housing be on Stringham dr.? Low-income housing in that area will definitely bring down property values there. The values of existing homes on Stringham and Violet Lane are from 150k - 200k and more. Do you think low income housing will be or should be of the same quality and valued at a comparable amount?
Andy Pedro
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Bottom Line - regardless of where these people want to build it in Genesee County it is not needed! The Batavia City Housing Authority has clearly pointed this out in their letter to the town. PERIOD!

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