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Batavia Housing Authority

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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