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Batavia Housing Authority

July 8, 2021 - 3:30pm

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Photo: 400 Towers at 400 E. Main St.

It can be said that housing authorities such as those under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide safe and affordable dwelling places for millions of low-income people in need.

But it also is true that these quasi-nonprofit enterprises benefit from their tax-exempt status, giving private landlords cause to question the fairness of the framework by which they exist.

You can draw a line from the preceding statements to the Batavia Housing Authority, a four-location government agency that offers HUD-subsidized apartments for senior (62 and older) and disabled tenants.

The BHA, which by New York State law is exempt from paying property taxes, receives subsidies from HUD to bring the monthly rent closer to the market rate and also receives periodic federal grants to help with renovations and maintenance across its buildings.

Executive Director Nathan Varland, during an interview with The Batavian last week at his office at 400 Towers, said he sees the Batavia Housing Authority as a much-needed public housing option considering the increasing number of senior citizens and permanently disabled residents who are struggling financially, especially as costs increase in a high-tax state such as New York.

AVERAGE RENT COLLECTED: $358

“The Batavia Housing Authority exists to provide safe, healthy and affordable housing for people who cannot realistically afford market rent,” he said. “The average rent collected is around $358 right now, and the federal subsidy is about $182 per apartment. Those amounts cover our monthly expenses, but our aging infrastructure requires some capital investment for the organization to be viable long-term.”

Recently, the BHA received a federal capital grant for $377,000 for renovations, including electrical systems and elevators, Varland said.

“Our margins are very low and it’s hard to stay efficient,” he said. “The capital grants that we apply for and (periodically) receive are vital. We wouldn’t be able to stay in business without them as half of our people can’t use the stairs.”

Varland describes the BHA as a “standalone government entity” that has entered into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the City of Batavia that enables the housing authority to pay about 75 percent less in property taxes than what a nonexempt organization would pay.

He said the PILOT has been in force for many years, likely back to when the buildings were finished in the early 1970s.

FOUR LOCATIONS IN THE CITY

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Photo: The Terraces at 193 S. Main St.

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Photo: Edward Court at 15 Edward St.

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Photo: The Pines at 4 MacArthur Drive.

The buildings of the Batavia Housing Authority are as follows:

  • 400 Towers at 400 E. Main St., (photo at top), a high-rise facility with 148 apartments over eight floors for senior citizens and people with permanent disabilities. Most of these are studio and one-bedroom apartments.
  • The Terraces at 193 S. Main St., 26 apartments.
  • Edward Court at 15 Edward St., 13 apartments.
  • The Pines at 4 MacArthur Drive, 10 apartments.

The apartment complexes on South Main, Edward and MacArthur are three- and four-bedroom townhouse-style units for households of three or more people and, currently, all are full, Varland said.

Varland said the BHA owns its own properties with HUD having a controlling interest. Monthly rent is based on 30 percent of a tenant’s adjusted annual income (or 10 percent of the gross income), with maximum income limits depending upon household size.

Current rents for studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments include cable and utilities, and range from $490 to $675. He said that some people with little or no income pay as low as $50 per month in rent.

Three- and four-bedroom apartments are priced at $593 and $611, respectively, with a utility allowance deducted for those on subsidized rent.

PILOT AGREEMENT IN FORCE

According to the New York State law, municipal housing authorities that are project financed or aided by the federal government or municipality, not by the state, are exempt from property taxes but can be subject to special assessments, levies or PILOT agreements.

The law reads as follows:

Payments in lieu of taxes -- None required. However, if payments in lieu of taxes are fixed or agreed upon by the municipality, such payments may not exceed the taxes last levied on the property prior to its acquisition by the MHA unless such project is federally financed or aided and the federal government has consented to a greater amount.

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In the case of the BHA (actually classified as the City of Batavia Housing Authority by the Genesee County treasurer’s office), the PILOT paid to the City – and then disbursed to the county and Batavia City School District – is approximately one-fourth of the amount paid by a nonexempt organization.

Photo at right: BHA Case Manager Heather Klein, left, with 400 Towers resident Brenda Boyce.

For the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2020, the BHA sent a check for $64,879.74 to the City clerk-treasurer -- $14,638.65 to the city, $15,409.33 to the county and $34,831.76 to the school district. That’s 23.5 percent of the full amount of $276,539 based on the assessed value of the properties ($6.5 million) and the total tax rate of $42.54 per thousand of assessed valuation.

“We pay a PILOT every year and that’s an agreement when the housing authority was formed,” Varland said, noting that the buildings were finished in 1970 and 1971. “The formula is based on what we take in and some of our utility expenses that come off. It’s not insignificant – about 5 percent of our annual budget -- but it’s also not based on the full value of the properties.”

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he looks at it as a “glass half full” proposition.

“The pay a PILOT but, at the same time, they are a quasi-governmental nonprofit-type agency. So, if you think about it, other nonprofits might not pay any property taxes – churches, GCASA, Cornell Cooperative Extension,” Landers said. “I’m glad they’re paying something rather than nothing at all.”

BOARD OF DIRECTOR OVERSIGHT

While the BHA properties are not owned by the city, the city manager does appoint citizens to a board of directors that provides oversight.

“We advise Nate in the direction we think is best for the housing authority,” said BHA Board Chair Brooks Hawley, who has been part of the committee for about 10 years. “At our monthly meetings, we look at the budget, address resident concerns and come up with solutions to any issues as a team.”

A current county legislator and former City Council member, Hawley said that since the rents are less than market rate – even with the subsidies, the grants from HUD “help us out with things like elevators and big projects that (private) landlords usually don’t have in a residential home.”

“We have four properties and we try to keep them up and not have them depreciate to where we’re putting huge money into it.”

The current board consists of a chairperson (Hawley), vice chair (Roger Hume), treasurer (Tammy Hathaway), secretary (Teresa Van Son), City Council liaison (Al McGinnis) and two residents (Don Hart and Jason Reese).

Varland said that the board frequently deals with compliance and regulatory matters, and sets policy that aligns with regulations at all levels of government.

“Public housing authorities are some of the most regulated agencies around,” he said. “Regulations are in place for a reason, but it does require a lot of work to keep up – especially with a small staff like ours.”

PRIVATE LANDLORDS: IS IT FAIR?

The Batavian contacted two property owners with numerous houses and apartments in Genesee County, and both agree that the Batavia Housing Authority, with its subsidies and improvement grants, have the upper hand when it comes to finding qualified tenants.

“It’s tough. I understand that there is a need for supportive housing for a lot of tenants, based on income and need, but for us, there’s no PILOT or anything else on our properties,” said Duane Preston of Preston Apartments LLC.

“We pay the full tax amount and what hurts the smaller guy is when they (BHA) get $200,000 per apartment for renovations – cabinets, bathrooms. We would love to come into that kind of money for our properties, but we can’t as we’re based on market rate rent.”

Preston said that he does have tenants that get reduced rent based on their Section 8 status (where they submit a voucher for about a 10 percent discount off the average rental market rate for the area).

“The maximum for a one bedroom in that case is $710 with everything included, $850 for a two-bedroom and $1,050 for a three bedroom,” he said. “They just raised the rates on all of those.”

He said that it takes about four months of operations for the average landlord to cover taxes on the property – “and that’s before you figure in your mortgage interest, water bills, utilities and other things that you have to cover.”

When told that the BHA is a standalone entity that owns its properties, Preston asked, “Then why are they getting a tax break? Why doesn’t everybody get a tax break then? I thought it was owned by the City of Batavia, and if that isn’t the case, that’s definitely not fair.”

Preston also questioned why those BHA apartments couldn’t be offered at market rate and be subject to the Section 8 guidelines.

“And it’s kind of a suck on city taxes,” he said. “The city is paying fire department, police department, whatever, and it used to be garbage pickup. Luckily, we’re out of that business now. Still, it’s a suck on the city and we’re not getting the full taxes out of it. It’s a double whammy.”

BHA IMMUNE FROM RISING COSTS?

Jeremy Yasses of JP Properties said he feels that the BHA is immune from rising taxes and property assessments.

“In today’s day and age when budgets are tight for municipalities and taxes and assessments are being raised, it’s not affecting the Batavia Housing Authority. How fair is that to the common folks who work every day and their assessment goes up, their taxes go up and their cost of living goes up?” he said.

Yasses said he finds it hard to believe that the Batavia Housing Authority isn’t making a profit.

“You can’t tell me that they break even every year,” he said. “Why are we allowing them to be subsidized? Why did they just get all of those grants to update all their apartments, and society wants us to update ours, and we do it one at a time when we can. They can do all of them, all at once. And that’s not fair.”

He also said that if the BHA is indeed a federal government-run entity, the City of Batavia should have nothing to do with it.

“Why does the city have any say about what’s going on there?” he asked. “No one checks in with me to see how Jeremy Yasses and JP Properties is doing.”

VARLAND EXPANDS UPON GUIDELINES

Varland explained that the BHA is under Section 9, which he called a separate funding stream from Section 8 with separate rules.

“The way Section 8 works is that low income individuals apply for Section 8 and they get a voucher for rent. They can take that to a private landlord,” he said. “With Section 9, we’re responsible for all the compliance and have a high level of oversight.”

He said the oversight comes from the city’s board of directors, but the major player is HUD.

“We’re not city employees, it’s just that the city is the jurisdiction because we’re located within the city limits,” he said. “There’s two ways to look at it: If HUD says jump, we jump; if the city says jump, we’ll have a conversation about jumping. Still, we want to make sure that partnership is strong.”

When asked what would happen if the BHA were to dispose of its properties to an unrelated entity, Varland said the transaction would have to be approved by HUD and for the fair market value.

“It would also have to be used for affordable housing,” he said. “Basically, the mission of the organization (and its property) needs to be preserved.”

400 TOWERS: A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Varland said just about all of the 148 apartments at 400 Towers are rented, but two are coming open soon.

“Our wait list is pretty short, so now’s a good time to apply,” he advised.

He said the facility at the corner of Swan and East Main provides a “social experience with everything in one spot.”

“You move in and you’re ready to go. Those studios are here at 400 Towers, where we have trash chutes, the mail comes inside, a snack shop, some meals that resident volunteers provide at low cost, activities, and a case manager on site to connect to resources,” he said. “And we just opened a fitness center and a library."

vickie_and_residents.jpgThe executive director said BHA is “stable” at this time, but there have been times when the HUD allowance has not been enough.

“It allows us to continue operations but we haven’t been able to keep the properties up,” he said. “Currently, we are able to maintain, but there are capital projects that need to happen in the next five years that we don’t currently have money for. But we’ve been able to keep the elevators working and keep roofs over the buildings – the basics – so we’re doing OK there.”

(Photo at right, Vicki Johnson, center, with 400 Towers residents Don Hart and Pauline Hensel).

He credited his staff for keeping things in order.

The administrative team consists of Vicki Johnson, housing manager in charge of recertification and property inspections; Abby Ball, leasing coordinator; Michelle Johnson, bookkeeper, and Heather Klein, case manager.

The maintenance staff lists four full-time employees and one part-time employee who are responsible for repairs and upkeep of all four properties. Varland said that he is looking to hire an entry-level full-time maintenance person.

COUNTING ON CITY PUBLIC SAFETY

Without its own security team, the BHA relies on municipal public safety agencies, Varland said.

“As far as security goes, we count heavily on the Batavia Police Department and Batavia Fire Department. They have been awesome,” Varland said. “They have been incredible supports and I don’t think that we could do this without them. We’re in a much better spot because of their support; it would be a struggle without them, plus our Genesee County EMS."

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He said that 400 Towers has secure doors while the family units at the other locations each have separate entrances. A camera system also is utilized.

“I’ll put our maintenance staff up against any other anywhere,” he said. “They work really hard to make sure that doors, locks, windows are safe and secure. We make sure that everything is in good condition, and to the extent that we have money, we keep things durable and fresh.”

(Photo at right: Maintenance Supervisor Jim Green).

When asked about the frequency of evictions, Varland said that has not been an issue.

“There are a number of our residents who have had financial issues due directly to COVID – both here at 400 Towers and at the family units. We have been able to work with them directly to come up with repayment agreements. As long as we stay in communication we try to help these people manage their financial situations and we want to keep them safe,” he said.

Varland said management has worked out repayment agreements with tenants, working with partner agencies such as Independent Living of the Genesee Region, which offers an emergency rental assistance program.

“The federal government is very interested in making sure people stay safe in their apartments, especially during COVID,” he added.

MORE HOUSING IS NEEDED

Varland said he is well aware of the “definite need for housing” and said that need has changed over the years.

“We could probably do a separate article on that, bringing in the Genesee County Planning Department as we meet quarterly with the Housing Needs Committee,” he said, mentioning the significance of the Ellicott Station, Ellicott Place, Eli Fish and Main Street Pizza downtown apartment projects.

When informed that an 80-unit senior complex is proposed for Pearl Street Road, he said, that is the population that needs housing the most.

“The data that is out there, our population is aging and our family size – our household size – is declining. So, people need accessible, affordable, safe and smaller apartments,” he said.

Varland said he writes letters of support for those type of projects.

“I think they’re good for the city and the county, and don’t really think of them as competition for us,” he said. “We may lose people, and people come and go, however, if it’s good for the city and good for the county, it’s good for us, too. It makes it a better place to be and live.”

May 11, 2021 - 10:34am

The City of Batavia Police Department came through with flying colors last month while thwarting a suspected drug deal in the parking lot at the 400 Towers senior apartment complex at 400 E. Main St., but that’s what the executive director of the Batavia Housing Authority has come to expect from municipal law enforcement.

“I observed two different suspected deals, and the second one just after 5 p.m. seemed like it was just starting,” said Nathan Varland, who heads the agency that operates 400 Towers along with other locations in the city. “So, I called 9-1-1 and they sent a car over without lights and sirens to see what they could see and they jumped right into it. It was very responsive and helpful to us, and I very much appreciate the help and support of police and fire.”

The Batavian contacted Varland by telephone this morning, following up on a report by City Council Member Al McGinnis at Monday night’s City Council meeting about the way in which police officers handled the matter.

McGinnis, a commissioner on the BHA board of directors, said the housing authority “would like to thank Chief (Shawn) Heubusch and his people for responding quickly and professionally to the drug issues that occurred at 400 Towers.”

“The manager (Varland) was out for a run in the evening and came back to his place and noticed some individuals dealing drugs,” he said. “He immediately called the police chief and they responded with no lights and no sirens. They were able to contain them and stop the deal, and arrest the perpetrators.”

Varland said some of the residents have witnessed suspected drug deals “where people have met in our parking lot and did not live here – they were not residents.”

“It didn’t seem like there was a ton of activity going on but it seemed to be increasing. So, I contacted Chief Heubusch and a couple people on the police department, asking for some advice,” he offered. “They were super responsive, super supportive. I just can’t say enough good things about the help that they provided to us, and just how quickly they responded when we needed help.”

Varland said he is not aware of any suspicious activity at the location since then, and is grateful for city emergency services personnel’s continuing protection.

“We count on them,” he said. “Honestly, we wouldn’t be in business without Batavia police and fire. They’re just so supportive in helping to meet all of our needs here.”

June 30, 2017 - 12:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Housing Authority, news, housing, notify.

The Batavia Housing Authority will receive a $227,424 federal grant as part of a $397 million package for New York's public housing programs.

The authority provides subsidized housing to low-income residents in four complexes in Batavia, including 400 Towers, The Pines at 4 MacArthur Drive, Edward Court at 15 Edward St., and The Terraces at 193 S. Main St.

Press release:

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand today announced $397,628,820 for housing authorities across New York State. The funds were allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public Housing Capital Fund. Schumer and Gillibrand said the funding will help housing authorities develop, finance and modernize their public housing facilities.

“Having a roof over your head is one of life’s basic necessities, so we must do everything we can to help provide those truly in need with a decent and affordable place to live. This federal funding will help support affordable housing initiatives throughout New York that assist needy families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to find an affordable place to live,” Senator Schumer said.

“We need to invest more federal funds to help more low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities in New York with access to affordable and safe housing,” Senator Gillibrand said. “These resources are vital for vulnerable communities and I will continue to do everything I can in the Senate to make sure that all New Yorkers have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

HUD’s Office of Capital Improvement administers the Capital Fund program, which provides financial assistance in the form of grants to public housing agencies (PHAs) to carry out capital and management activities; acting as the primary tool to preserve New York's affordable housing stock. These federal dollars are used to increase a PHA's ability to maintain the physical infrastructure of developments and improve the safety and security of its residents. 

November 10, 2015 - 9:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Housing Authority, batavia, 400 Towers, business.

A months-long vacancy in the executive director position for the Batavia Housing Authority has been filled, Brooks Hawley announced during Monday's City Council meeting.

Nathan Varland, most recently the housing director for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, has accepted the position.

Hawley said Varland was one of four candidates interviewed for the position and the board of directors were impressed with his qualifications.

Varland steps into the role while the board conducts an internal investigation into the death of a 91-year-old resident of 400 Towers, who apparently wandered onto the roof of the building and died of exposure. Batavia PD is still awaiting results of an autopsy report in the death of the resident, who may have suffered from mild dementia. 

Hawley, president of the City Council, also serves on the BHA Board.

October 30, 2015 - 10:51am

The recent death under questionable circumstances of a 91-year-old resident along with a series of complaints from tenants of 400 Towers has prompted Councilwoman Rosemary Christian to contact NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and request an audit of the senior housing complex, which is operated by the Batavia Housing Authority.

A spokesman for the comptroller's office said it's not unusual for the office to receive requests for audits from public officials and it is a factor in deciding audit priorities. 

Public housing complexes in New York do fall under the office's jurisdiction to audit, said Brian Butry.

He couldn't comment at this time, of course, on whether or when there might be an audit of 400 Towers.

"There seems to be a lot of problems and complaints from the residents there," Christian said in her e-mail to DiNapoli. "I have heard from many people who live there and they aren't very happy there."

Earlier this month a man was found dead on the roof of 400 Towers. It appears that the man, who may have suffered from mild dementia, wandered in the middle of the night from his apartment and onto the roof. A magnetic lock on the door leading to the roof may not have been operating correctly at the time, make it easier for the man to access the roof, but then he was unable to find his way back into the building.

Yesterday evening, Christian, along with Kyle Couchman, who had been hired by the deceased gentleman's family to help provide day care for the man, addressed a meeting of the housing authority board and said they would like answers to why certain things are taking place at 400 Towers.

Concerns include:

  • A resident other residents seem to fear wanders freely and may have access to other residents' apartments;
  • There have been a few thefts from apartments and there are concerns that somebody has a master key, or that there are too many master keys floating around; Christian would like to know why the locks haven't been changed;
  • Why residents are not allowed to sit in the lobby for more than 30 minutes at a time and face fines if they violate the rule; Couchman said his client had been written up for such a violation and he found that disturbing and also suggested the rule violated existing leases;
  • Christian wonders why a resident in a wheelchair was fined $45 after his wheelchair hit a metal door frame;
  • Residents have been fined when the tires of their cars are on the yellow lines of parking spaces;
  • Fine money must be paid separate from rent checks, and Christian wonders where the money goes and what it's spent on;
  • Christian expressed concern that applicants for apartments are interviewed at the window in the lobby instead of a private room to protect their privacy.

Christian also raised these issues in her e-mail to DiNapoli.

While housing authority board members are appointed by City Manager Jason Molino, the city's involvement with the housing authority pretty much ends there. The authority operates independently of the city.  

Following the remarks by Christian and Couchman at Thursday's meeting, the board said it would not be discussing the questions or concerns at that meeting.

October 14, 2015 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 400 Towers, batavia, Batavia Housing Authority.

There will be an internal investigation into why a door to a roof was left open at 400 Towers, apparently contributing to the death of a resident of the facility, said Brooks Hawley, a member of the Batavia Housing Authority Board of Directors.

Yesterday morning a 91-year-old man with dementia was found dead on the roof, apparently the victim of exposure after wandering onto the roof and seemingly unable to find his way back into the building.

The name of the man has not yet been released.

Hawley, who is also president of the City Council, called the incident "unfortunate."

"We will be doing an internal investigation to find out what went wrong and whose responsibility it was," Hawley said. "I believe something slipped through the cracks and unfortunately the door to the roof was left open and we need to investigate that and find out why."

This is the second death of questionable circumstances in the past six months at 400 Towers, but Hawley said the two incidents are totally unrelated.

In the prior incident, a resident apparently died of natural causes in his apartment, but his death wasn't discovered for at least two weeks.

"The only reason he was not found is because he didn't have any friends and there are liability issues for just entering somebody's apartment unless there's a cause."

UPDATE: Here's a press release about the incident from Batavia PD:

The Batavia Police Department is currently investigating the death of a 91-year old -male that occurred sometime overnight, Oct. 12 – 13, at 400 E. Main St. in the City of Batavia.

Officers responded at approximately 8:36 a.m. for a missing person report at that location. The call was placed by a caregiver who had stopped to check on the deceased early that morning. After a brief search the man was located on the roof of 400 E. Main St. deceased. Video recovered from the premises shows the man wandering the halls until approximately 1:40 a.m., he appeared to be disoriented. He is last seen going into a stairwell leading to the roof where he was later found.

The Police Department is working closely with the Housing Authority as the investigation proceeds. The body was sent to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. Further details of the investigation will be available pending the results of the autopsy. 

Previously: Resident of 400 Towers reportedly dies of exposure after wandering to roof during the night

Our news partner, WBTA, conducted the interview with Hawley.

October 14, 2015 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 400 Towers, batavia, Batavia Housing Authority.

For the second time within six months a resident at 400 Towers has died under questionable circumstances.

Yesterday morning a 91-year-old man who reportedly suffered from mild dementia was found dead on the roof of the west wing of 400 Towers. He apparently died of exposure.

Chief Shawn Heubusch, Batavia PD, confirmed last night the death and that the man was found on the roof, but officials have yet to release the man's name.

Kyle Couchman, who was hired as an independent contractor to help care for the gentleman, called police yesterday morning after he found the man was missing from his room.

Couchman said the man would occasionally get up in the middle of the night and be confused about where he was and would wander off. Typically, when that happened, he would first move things around his room, so when Couchman arrived in the morning and found his room in a bit of disarray he knew the man had another wandering episode.

He tried calling the man's cell phone and began searching the stairwell to see if he might have stopped to rest or fallen. On the sixth floor, in a walkway outside the stairwell, he found the man's phone, wallet and towels from the man's room.  

It was now after 8:30 a.m., he said, and the 400 Towers Office was open for the day and he asked if surveillance video could be reviewed and he said he was told he would have to wait until the maintenance supervisor was available, or he could call police for assistance, so he called police.

A short time after Officer Frank Klimjack arrived on scene, the maintenance supervisor found the gentleman's body on the roof. 

A county coroner pronounced the man dead at the scene, Couchman said.

Couchman speculated that the man wandered up to the roof, became confused, and couldn't relocate the doorway that would lead him back into the building.

"He was in a common sleeping position for him when I would come in and wake him up in the morning," Couchman said.

According to Couchman, there was a magnetic lock on the door leading to the roof that was left unsecure, perhaps after fire maintenance work on Friday. The lock is supposed to be secure at all times, Couchman said, and only open during a fire alarm.

In June, a resident apparently died in his room and was left unattended or unchecked upon for two weeks.

A phone call to the Batavia Housing Authority placed this morning seeking comment has not yet been returned. We will continue to update this story or post new stories as additional information becomes available.

March 9, 2011 - 12:17pm
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."

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