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The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, Buffalo, NY, Needs To Improve Its Management of the Commodore Perry Homes Development To Address Longstanding Concerns

We audited the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority’s management of its Commodore Perry Homes development.  We selected the Authority based on congressional interest.  Half of the development’s buildings were demolished more than 20 years ago, and the majority of the remaining buildings and units have been vacant for years without redevelopment activity.  The objective of the audit was to determine whether the Authority properly managed its Commodore Perry Homes development.  Our work focused on the period beginning in July 2013.

The Authority did not properly manage the Commodore Perry Homes development to address longstanding redevelopment needs and health and safety issues.  While the Authority had made various redevelopment plans for the property since 2013, none fully materialized, and all dwelling units in the development are now vacant.  Further, the Authority did not adequately address urgent, ongoing health and safety issues with the vacant development.  These issues occurred for various reasons, including that the Authority did not consistently prioritize taking action at its Commodore Perry Homes development, lacked a cohesive redevelopment strategy over time, and lacked sufficient processes to address recurring issues.  While HUD and the Authority had recently taken steps toward developing a plan forward, no redevelopment had occurred at the site.  As a result, fewer low-rent units were available to families in need, the vacant development continued to deteriorate, and the surrounding residents and local community continued to be exposed to significant blight and health and safety issues.

We recommend that HUD determine (1) whether the development represents an imminent threat to public safety and activities to control the situation could be taken before the full environmental review process, and (2) which environmental review process would be most beneficial to ensure that it is completed as soon as possible.  Further, we recommend that HUD continue to provide training and technical assistance to the Authority and require it to (1) identify and address urgent health and safety issues; (2) develop and implement a plan to routinely identify and address recurring urgent health and safety issues; and (3) develop and implement plans for the remaining public housing units at the development and for the original property related to the units converted during previous redevelopment efforts.  Last, if the Authority does not follow through on its asset repositioning plans, misses deadlines, or the plan is no longer feasible, we recommend that HUD consider and use available remedies.