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Apr 15 - Apr 23, 2014

Housing for Undesirables Proposed; Developer Refuses to Say Exactly Where

By Mike Hudson

April 15, 2014

Bridgewater , a private development in Lewiston, will be built for $75,000 per unit.

Just what we need. More poor people, mental patients, addicts and ex-cons in the city of Niagara Falls. 

Mayor Paul Dyster has thrown his beer gut behind a proposal by an outfit called DePaul Properties Inc., a nonprofit corporation based in Rochester. According to its website, the company provides housing for mental health patients, drug addicts, former convicts, senior citizens and those too poor to afford living in non-subsidized properties. 

While well adjusted, hardworking, taxpaying individuals and families are leaving Niagara Falls like the place was on fire, Dyster is going to great lengths to replace them with the indigent, the mentally ill, sex offenders and violent paroled felons in order to stave off the inevitable, a drop in the city's population below 50,000 that allows it to claim status, just barely, as a city. 

Property values continue to plummet here, as easily accessible websites such as disseminate crime statistics, the address of each sex offender, and demographic data showing, for example, that the per capita income here is a social services worker's dream at just $18,000 a year. 

DePaul is proposing to build a 65-unit apartment building in the Hyde Park or downtown area. The proposal does not say where the building will be located, presumably because the owners of nearby homes would be up in arms at the noxious idea. Whatever they paid for their homes, the resale value would plummet like the Hindenberg once it became known there was an institution like the one DePaul is proposing in the neighborhood. 

Dyster has never met a subsidized housing program he didn't like. He was a staunch advocate of the HOPE VI housing project, a slum in the making in which those unable to pay rent were gifted with condominiums that cost more than $350,000 apiece to build, and, in 2010, he proposed giving a developer who just happened to be a campaign contributor $6 million and the keys to the abandoned South Junior High School in yet another scheme that has yet to make any progress whatsoever. 

The DePaul proposal does contain one new wrinkle, however. Rather than referring to its facility as "subsidized housing" or "low income housing," the geniuses at DePaul refer to the institution they hope to build as an "enriched housing campus." 

Perhaps they hope the Orwellian doublespeak will convince the mental patients they recruit to live there that they will soon be rich college graduates. 

The rest of the DePaul pitch is basically the same as the ones used for HOPE VI and South Junior.  There is insufficient affordable housing in Niagara Falls, private landlords charge too much for rent, and there is an acute shortage of subsidized housing. 

The facts are that rents and mortgage payments in the city are among the cheapest in the nation.  You can rent a half house for $350 a month or less and more than half the units in the city are eligible for Section 8 or some other subsidy. 

There are an estimated 3,150 housing vacancies across the City of Niagara Falls so it is preposterous to say there is a need for more housing. 

DePaul also neglected to say in its proposal how much the halfway house it plans on building is going to cost the taxpayers of Niagara Falls. 

What we do know is that the dirty little secret of these affordable housing projects are that they are fraught with scam: The "affordable housing" designation permits the developers to over-finance the project - collecting millions up front because the federal, state (and in our city local) governments provide all kinds of subsidies as long as the tenants will be subsidized once they move in. 

It is a welfare piled upon welfare - a welfare forever program - where the developer gets rich. 

Consider: This proposed project is estimated to cost $18 million for 65 small units ranging in size from 650 to 900 square feet.  That means each small unit will cost $276,923.

All of it will be built with taxpayer money, with money left over to line the developer's pockets.

To show the reader how much of a scam these affordable housing projects are, consider that in Lewiston, Bridgewater LLC is planning to build 139 larger, more luxurious units for less than  $75,000 per unit and still make a profit.

What kind of scam is going on in Niagara Falls where affordable housing, subsidized by taxpayers, cost almost four times more to build than better quality private construction in Lewiston?

Somebody should look into this.

It seems as always that task falls solely on the Niagara Falls Reporter.

No one else seems to care.

Certainly our illustrious mayor and maybe some on the City Council won't worry about the twin facts that these affordable housing projects do not improve the city. 

Perhaps they should at least wonder, once, why it costs more to build low-income, lower-quality housing than market rate housing. 

Earlier this year we reported on the obscenely high cost--nearly $400,000 per unit---, to renovate the South Junior High school into affordable housing. 

$400,000 could build a mansion in Niagara Falls. 

Instead it will build a single poverty housing unit.

As if we don't have enough of these already.

The more cheaply built, DePaul project will cost $276,900 for smaller units. Taxpayers will fund most, if not all of the cost to build.





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