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Housing activists remain skeptical of City Hall

My guest post for today comes from Phil Fairbanks, who has written extensively about city housing issues, including a recent investigation of vacant housing. I asked Phil about the fallout since his series ran.

As you can probably guess, the response has varied widely, although the large, large majority of the people who contacted me saw the series as eye-opening confirmation of an immense challenge facing the city.

Perhaps the most telling reaction came at a recent Common Council hearing on how the city should use state housing funds. Speaker after speaker called for a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to rebuilding the city's neighborhoods.

What people want is more than than just demolitions. Yes, there are thousands of houses that need to come down, but what's missing in many neighborhoods is a plan, a vision for what comes next.

There's a growing frustration with City Hall and what many housing advocates see as its inability to deal with a problem as big as vacant housing.

Many also wonder if the Brown administration is truly interested in working with groups that could help. They point to the land banking bill passed by the state legislature and now headed to Gov. David Paterson.

The city, as well as the state Conference of Mayors, claims the bill fails to address their unique problems. They've asked Paterson to veto it.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen groups and individuals, including the University at Buffalo's Regional Institute, have voiced support for the bill.

Tomorrow: Mary Pasciak writes about some of the most outrageous pension abuses she has uncovered.


Quizzing my colleagues
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