University Heights has made headlines recently, and not for good reasons. Crime and blight are reaching levels unacceptable to many in the community. Two long-time residents have had enough of the disorder. They have started a blog- buffalowatch- chronicling the quality-of-life issues and problem properties dragging down the neighborhood.
While Main Street is showing glimmers of renaissance with new restaurants, stores and investment, a few of the residential side streets are not fairing as well.
Violent crime, graffiti, unkept properties, housing code violations, vandalism, and unchecked student behavior, all a toxic mix of neighborhood killers, are at the forefront of their concerns. The authors are not holding back. They are posting pictures and property owner information online. City Hall, NFTA and UB are also in their crosshairs.
"I started the blog because it was fun. I think the blog makes it pretty clear what problems are facing the Heights, absentee landlords, lack of police presence, and city government officials completely missing in action," says The Answer Lady, one of the site's contributors wishing to remain nameless.
"There are two contributors posting under three names. I have received some guest postings and would like to get more. Withering Heights, Concerned Citizen and The Answer Lady have all lived in the Heights for more than twenty years," Lady says. "Like most long-time residents of the Heights, we live here because we like the energy and diversity of the community. We also like the ability to walk to almost everything we need, restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, banks, etc."
Lady says the community has yet to reach the point of no return, "but it is not looking good."
"Mayor Brown's tenure has been marked by a very noticeable increase in crime and a precipitous fall in the quality of the housing stock here," she says.
The University at Buffalo has made progress reinvesting in the South Campus, but promises to better the University Heights community have fallen short.
"UB has a long way to go to become the community asset it claims to be," says Lady. "UB 2020 caused a land rush of slumlords into the area and that has definitely not been good. With over 3,000 students living in the Heights, money to help with policing, instead of words, door hangers or another 'program', is what we need from UB."
Improving housing conditions and encouraging homeownership is another need according to Lady.
“There is one housing inspector for the entire University Heights district. The City needs to hire more housing inspectors for all areas of the city,” she says. The present Housing Court is overwhelmed. We also need additional Housing Court judges. It is time for Mayor Brown to get serious about the blight caused by absentee property owners. There is also a huge need for more police in the entire city, not just the Heights.”
“There is money for all this,” says The Answer Lady. “Mayor Brown has a rainy day fund of over $40 million. To me, it looks like its been raining in Buffalo for a long time.”
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