07.16.15

FOLLOWING SCHUMER’S PUSH, FEDERAL DEPT. OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT WILL CONDUCT IN-DEPTH INSPECTION OF LIVING CONDITIONS & MANAGEMENT OF TOWNE GARDEN APARTMENTS IN BUFFALO THIS SUMMER – NEXT INSPECTION WAS NOT SET TO BE CONDUCTED UNTIL 2016, BUT SCHUMER URGED FEDS TO LAUNCH INSPECTION ASAP AFTER COMPLAINTS FROM RESIDENTS REVEALED DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS

Following Limited Inspection In May Of Federally-Subsidized Complex, Schumer Called On HUD To Launch Top-To-Bottom Investigation ASAP; Asked HUD To Look Into Why The Apartment Building Has Been Allowed to Deteriorate & What Can Be Done to Hold the Landlord Accountable – Schumer Pushed HUD To Do Inspection ASAP, Despite The Fact That Next Review Was Not Set To Be Conducted Until 2016

Schumer Said 2016 Is Too Long For Residents To Wait – Tenants Reported Broken Toilets, Leaking Roofs, Mold, Not Enough Heat, Un-Shoveled Snow, Inoperable Parking Lot Lights & Even Sewer Back-Ups That Were Not Cleaned For Over A Week – Schumer Says HUD Has Agreed To Complete Thorough Investigation This Summer

Schumer: HUD Investigation Aims to Ensure Residents & Families Can Live In A Safe, Secure Apartment Building 

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be launching a comprehensive inspection of the living conditions and management at the Towne Garden apartment complex in Buffalo this summer. Schumer explained that residents of the federally-subsidized apartment building have long complained of broken toilets, mold, leaking roofs, not enough heat, and parking lot lights that have been inoperable for months. The United States Postal Service was forced to stop delivering mail at one point during the winter due to unplowed pathways that proved hazardous for postal employees. And worst of all, Schumer said, a sewer backed up into one woman’s apartment and was not cleaned up for over a week, forcing her to live with raw sewage in her bathtub and on her floor.

Following these complaints of deplorable living conditions by residents, HUD conducted a limited review of the complex in May, in which it inspected just five units in the 302-unit complex. As a result, Schumer called for a top-to-bottom investigation to ensure residents have a safe place to live. Schumer said the next review for the Towne Garden apartments was not set to be completed until 2016, but he urged HUD to conduct the investigation as soon as possible because residents could not afford to wait. Now, following his push, HUD has agreed to complete this thorough review this summer in order to find solutions to these problems, improve the poor living conditions, and resolve the persistent code violations at the complex. The inspection is expected to take place this August.

“An expedited top-to-bottom investigation by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development will directly address the poor the living conditions are at the Towne Garden complex and highlight what can be done immediately to improve them. The fact that families and seniors were subjected to such horrible conditions is just unacceptable,” said Schumer. “So the fact that this review will be conducted this summer, instead of waiting until 2016, is welcome news. If what we have heard from residents who have voiced their concerns proves to be the standard for the entire building, then HUD has some serious work to do. So I will keep pushing the federal agency to take action and establish long-term fixes and to hold accountable the owners, because Towne Garden residents deserve to live in a safe and secure building.”

The Towne Gardens complex in Buffalo is federally subsidized and has been documented for health and safety code violations for months. Schumer said that while the complex received a just-passing grade of 81b on their Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) assessment in 2014 – and therefore the next planned assessment is not scheduled until 2016 – circumstances at Towne Gardens clearly warrant more immediate action from HUD. Therefore, in May, Schumer said the limited review HUD preformed – where staff investigated conditions at five of the 302 federally subsidized apartments – was a step in the right direction, however more had to be done. Schumer urged HUD to perform a more in-depth inspection as soon as possible to look at any major health, safety and security risks to residents, as soon as possible.

Schumer said Buffalo HUD’s office management and occupancy review was a step in the right direction. However, Schumer said he believes the fact that they were only able to investigate five units initially was not enough to address the sub-standard living conditions. Schumer said this limited inspection likely did not give the full picture of the multitude of negative quality-of-life issues residents are experiencing, and, therefore, urged HUD to promptly schedule and conduct a more comprehensive inspection of the complex as soon as possible.

Schumer wrote to HUD Secretary Julian Castro calling on his agency to launch a top-down investigation to provide a clear picture of the building’s problems and to determine how the complex’s management can improve the deplorable conditions for tenants. After Schumer’s push, HUD announced it will conduct a follow-up REAC, which is scheduled to take place in August and would provide a comprehensive analysis of the building’s conditions. Further action will then be made following HUD’s investigation.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s initial letter to HUD appears below:

Dear Secretary Castro,

In response to numerous complaints from my constituents, I write regarding the sub-standard living conditions and multiple code violations at the Towne Gardens apartment complex in Buffalo, New York. This complex is federally subsidized, and I am urging the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to do a full, top-to-bottom inspection of the living conditions at the property and management review as soon as possible. It is my understanding that in 2014 the complex received a just-passing grade of 81b on their Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) assessment, and therefore the next planned assessment is not scheduled until 2016. However, I think recent circumstances at Towne Gardens – including numerous documented code violations – warrant more immediate action from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

I have been contacted by a number of constituents and community leaders about issues at Town Gardens over the past few weeks. Some of the complaints include broken toilets, leaking roofs, not enough heat in the winter, and parking lot lights that have been inoperable for months. This past winter, the United States Postal Service stopped delivering mail to the complex because the snow was not shoveled, creating a hazard for postal workers. Imagine what this was like for the residents. Perhaps worst of all, this past October, a sewer backed up into one of the apartments and was not cleaned up for over a week. A woman was living with raw sewage in her bathtub and on her floor, according to local leaders and media reports. These living conditions, which include some serious health, safety and security concerns, are unacceptable. 

The local office of HUD performed a management and occupancy review on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and I appreciate their efforts to hear from the residents and investigate their complaints. However, I believe that they were only able to investigate approximately five units of the 302 that are federally subsidized, and they were only able to meet with constituents during limited hours. This limited inspection likely did not give the full picture of the multitude of negative quality-of-life issues residents are experiencing, and, therefore, I urge HUD to promptly schedule and conduct a comprehensive inspection of the complex.  

If you should have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

###



Previous Article Next Article