Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 11, 2013

Property owners, Falls legislators leave meeting disappointed after rent measures stalled


Niagara Gazette — "It has to be politics, because who in their right mind wouldn't be for this?" Niagara Falls landlord Jerry Turri said.

Of the tabling of the home-rule request especially, LAGN President Bob Pascoe said, "We're confused why they'd deny local government the right to manage itself. We're not looking to reform the whole welfare system ...

"Critics say this is all about the landlords wanting their money," Niagara Falls rental property owner Laura Rhoney said. "Yes, we want the rent money, to improve our properties, improve our city and improve the life of our tenants."

"When the rent is paid, tenants — especially children — have more stable homes, and landlords have the money to invest back into their properties," association member Emma Chapman said. "Our idea is good for tenants, good for landlords and it would save some taxpayer money."

Niagara Falls Block Club Council Treasurer Norma Higgs said she approached Niagara County Social Services in the 1990s, to inquire about modeling state welfare housing payments after the federal "Section 8" voucher program, in which the government directly pays property owners and only for property that passes inspection.

Like her effort then, LAGN's effort now "doesn't look like it's going anywhere," Higgs said, "and I'm mad about that. The whole cycle (of property abuse, neglect and abandonment) is just not fair. All we want is a clean city, and it just seems like we get turned down wherever we go."

Legislator Steed, D-Niagara Falls, proposed tabling the resolutions supporting statewide direct-pay arrangements or a home rule message for Niagara County only. He was seconded in both by legislator Cheree Copelin, R-Niagara Falls. Both lawmakers said they wanted time to further research the issue and talk with Social Services Commissioner Anthony Restaino.

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