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Public Blight

by on August 18, 2011

Housing projects are the toupees of residences: they’re easy to spot and always ugly. The vapidly featureless rectangular brick structures look exactly as welcoming as the policies that led to their construction.

There’s a reason why attractive subsidized apartment buildings are as rare as stimulus-created or -saved job. Namely, they’re built by people who will never think about what it will be like to live there.

Authorized slums offend the senses even after they’ve been abandoned. The only thing more visually revolting than government-built apartments are abandoned government-built apartments that have been blotting the city since the last time the Bills wore white helmets with the charging buffalo:

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) has hired a new contractor to finish the demolition of the Kensington Towers.

It hasn’t taken that long, at least in Buffalo Years:

Since the 1980’s, the Kensington Towers have stood vacant.

So progress occurs at the usual pace. Maybe they need an eight-figure grant to finish their work, as their present budget doesn’t seem to be cutting it:

Several years ago, the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority received a $5-million dollar grant to demolish the old public housing project.

Why should they care if it gets spent efficiently? It’s not like they’re spending their own money. They typically picked a company that has proven to be less than upstanding, illustrating for our president’s benefit what happens when the government gets in the business of choosing businesses:

A local company, HLM Holding, was contracted to do the job.

They were fired earlier this year after the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority said they failed to secure adequate bonding and complete the project on time.

You may be unsurprised to learn that another part of the government is keeping the decrepit towers standing. If they didn’t, people in the area could be exposed to asbestos from a faraway site during a one-time demolition:

On August 4th, the US Attorney for the Western District, William Hochul, Jr., announced that two sub-contractors and nine individuals were charged with felony violation the federal Clean Air Act.

The indictment alleges the individuals improperly removed asbestos from the Kensington Towers.

Yeah, you wouldn’t want anything unhealthy emerging from rat factories that have been left standing for decades. Letting the illustrative eyesores continue to exist is not nearly as insalubrious as warehousing the destitute in dangerously secluded developments from which there is virtually zero chance of ever escaping.

Kicking in tax dollars for housing costs keeps unfortunate poor people in place. Money taken from the economy to build dwellings and cover part of the rent could have been used to create jobs that would allow people to work their way into better neighborhoods.

Failing that, oh so heartless rich jerks could have donated to charities that would have actually helped those in need. Instead, the collected funds were frittered on units that were abandoned after a few decades and left that way for a few decades more.

Now, the Housing Authority is failing to destroy evidence of its inability to help the less fortunate. Vacant projects are atrocious enough. But what’s truly hideous is pretending that building them in the first place was compassionate.

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