BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There are 172 families on edge, at the Shoreline Apartments on Niagara Street, after the owners told them they have to get out by November 1.
For years the owners, Norstar Development U.S.A., LLC, have assured tenants the demolition of their apartment complex would be phased in over a period of years, and no one would be displaced. It is now a different story, and tenants are worried because trying to find affordable housing on such short notice is nearly impossible.
“I think we are being scammed,” said one tenant, “I think we are being railroaded.” That feeling was shared by many of the residents who contacted Call 4 Action after learning they only have about 5 months to move out so their homes can be demolished.
Norstar Development, which is based in Canada, announced years ago, they would be bulldozing the entire 400-unit complex, but the residents would be moved around gradually, as new housing units are built to replace the outdated apartments.
Resident Michael Morehouse feels Norstar officials have deceived the tenants, because they were led to believe time was on their side. “Now last week, we get this bombshell that everybody has get to move out by November 1.”
The tenants, many of whom receive rental assistance, are leery of Norstar’s real intentions. Morehouse believes Norstar wants to bring in higher income tenants, “I think they are trying to get the fixed income people out–the minorities, the disabled–out of here, and get the people that have those jobs in here.”
Roy Gilbert, who lives at Shoreline with his two daughters, said, “They are trying to bring the higher people from the outskirts of the City of Buffalo down here, and take the lower income people and move them out.”
Reva McDuffie, a 30-year resident of Shoreline agreed, “I think it is politics, that is what I think it is. They just want us out, and put everybody else in.”
Linda Goodman, Vice President of Norstar Development, USA, said company officials are trying to cause as little disruption for the tenants as possible, “Although we could not give them anything definitive, we are working on a plan to help with assistance financially.”
Goodman said, there will be help for tenants who are forced to move, “Our staff in the office will be helping them with identifying other sites, other complexes that the people might want to move to.”
Just don’t let the tenants down, said resident John Schmidt, “They promised that nobody would be displaced. They promised they would help us move, especially the elderly and disabled. That was a fair plan–they need to keep their promises.”
Linda Goodman said Norstar will be sending out updates to the residents in the next few days with more information on their plans, but before they can move forward, the plans have to be approved by the Buffalo Planning Board, and that could happen at the Planning Board’s meeting in June.