The Sickness of Hud

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HUD Says, Welcome to Buffalo!

by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski

Thanks HUD and your local affiliate, BMHA, for giving us this priceless — picture-worth-a-thousand-words — image of what your agency has done to Buffalo.

For way too many months, HUD has greeted visitors to Buffalo with this ghastly sight of the current state of the incredibly expensive and wasteful Lakeview Housing Project. (It was even worse before a recent snowfall.) First, they spent $17 million fixing up the old units. Then they decided to spend $80 million demolishing and replacing them.

In the early 1960′s, two enormous public-housing high-rises were built near downtown Buffalo, resulting in the destruction of viable neighborhoods and the displacement of thousands of people. As in other cities, these projects became warehouses for every type of social pathology. One observer described the preparatory demolitions as leaving "a 29-block scar on the face of the city." And that was the high point of this misguided exercise in Soviet-style economic planning.

Author James Bovard calls HUD "the eternal boondoggle." HUD was supposed to provide housing for poor people, not allow wealthy campaign contributors to get rich. According to TomPaine.com:

"Israel Roizman, a wealthy real-estate developer from the Philadelphia area, showered the Clinton-Gore ’96 campaign and the Democratic National Committee with more than $200,000 since 1994. This year [1999], Roizman contributed the maximum allowable by law to the Gore campaign. In 1998, Roizman won a contract to develop a federal housing project in Buffalo, N.Y. He was expected to pocket about $7 million from the deal."

It isn’t enough, apparently, that this agency destroyed many Buffalo neighborhoods, built horrendous housing projects Stalin would have loved, and is a den of waste, corruption, and patronage. No. Now they have to ruin the drive along the beautiful Niagara River too. Thanks!

All this nonsense was FDR‘s idea. Isn’t it time for a new deal?

January 12, 2004

James Ostrowski is an attorney practicing in Buffalo, New York. See his website at http://jimostrowski.com.

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