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BMHA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS APPROVES 10% RENT INCREASE FOR MARINE DRIVE APARTMENTS - JUST THE SECOND RENT RISE IN 20 YEARS
THE INCREASE, WHICH IS EXPECTED TO GO INTO EFFECT IN EARLY 2024, WILL BOOST RENTS AT MARINE DRIVE FROM A CURRENT RANGE OF $335 TO $623 PER MONTH, TO BETWEEN $368 AND $685 MONTHLY, INCLUDING UTILITIES, FOR THE MIX OF 1- TO 4-BEDROOM UNITS
Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) Board of Commissioners today unanimously approved a 10% rent increase for its 616-unit Marine Drive Apartments development.
The increase, which is expected to take effect in early 2024, will be just the second increase at Marine Drive since 2004. Rents at the development were increased by 10% in December 2019.
The monthly increase will range from $33.50 a month to $62.30, depending on the size of the unit. A majority of Marine Drive residents – 62% - live in two-bedroom apartments, and will see their rent rise from a current $441 to $474.10 monthly, an increase of $43.10.
The upcoming 10% increase means that the development will generate $3,360,567 annually, up from the current $3,055,061.
BMHA Executive Director Gillian D. Brown said the rent boost at Marine Drive, the authority’s only New York State-governed development, is financially necessary.
“Even with the rent increase, Marine Drive Apartments will still be running at a deficit, however, the 10% increase will help bridge that gap, and bring those rents more in line with what tenants are paying at our other developments,” BMHA Executive Director Gillian D. Brown said.
Unlike the BMHA’s Federal developments, which are overseen and subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the authority receives no operating subsidy from any entity for Marine Drive.
Brown noted that 80% of Marine Drive residents pay less than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. Under HUD guidelines, residents’ rent and utilities must be 30% of their annual disposable income. He also pointed out that the base charges for rent and utilities combined at Marine Drive will remain significantly lower than the published HUD fair market rents for 2023.
“Today’s vote means that residents will have plenty of time to adjust their budgets ahead of the increase going into effect. We expect the state review and approval process to take many months, so we’re projecting the increase won’t happen until early next year,” Brown said.
The last time the BMHA board voted to raise rents, was in late 2016, and the increased rents were not implemented until mid-2019.
In other action, the board authorized the executive director to finalize a multi-party land transfer transaction involving the former Woodson Gardens housing site, currently known as Fosdick Field.
In October 2016, the BMHA sold the former public housing site to the City Honors/Fosdick-Masten Park Foundation for the development of a multi-purpose athletic field. Under the $2,050,000 sale agreement, the foundation was to make a $500,000 initial payment, with the balance due in August 2019.
When the foundation faced difficulties raising the purchase funds, the agreement was amended to allow it to make interest-only payments to the BMHA and pay the total due in August 2019. When fundraising efforts continued to fall short, the foundation began negotiations with Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) to acquire the property and pay the BMHA the $2.05 million.
In 2022, BPS and the foundation reached an agreement and the New York State Attorney General’s Office gave its required approval. The BMHA will also transfer title to two additional parcels which were used as part of the expansion of the City Honors campus.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Common Council approved the abandonment of Fosdick St., a one-block-long street, between Best and East North streets, as part of the multi-party land transfer.
“We are very appreciative that the BPS appears willing to step in and acquire the property and look forward to finalizing the agreement soon. Funds realized from the sale will all be allocated to programs which directly benefit the residents of the Housing Authority,” Brown said.
The 14-building Woodson Gardens public housing development was constructed in the late 1970s on land which had been the athletic field for the former Fosdick-Masten H.S., located across Fosdick St. from what is now City Honors School.
The BMHA paid nearly $500,000 to demolish the development and clear the site in 2013.
The BMHA Board also welcomed its newest member, Charles G. Pressley III, at its monthly session.
Pressley, an attorney with the Erie County Medical Center’s Office of General Counsel, was appointed by Mayor Byron W. Brown and approved by the Buffalo Common Counsel to fill the board seat previously held by Rev. Alan Core. Pressley will serve out the remainder of Core’s term which runs through October 2023.
Reappointments of Chairman David Rodriguez, whose term was extended through October 2026, and Vice Chair Yvonne C. McCray, who will serve until October 2027, were also approved by the Common Council in December 2022. There is currently one vacancy on the Board, due to the resignation of Commissioner Shatorah Roberson, Esq. who joined the board in June 2019, while serving as the City of Buffalo’s Chief Diversity Officer.