Add that to Chris Collins’ resume. According to today’s Buffalo News, Collins lent $215,000 to an East Side landlord to cover eight properties. When the debt went bad, Collins had two choices:
1. Write the debt off, take a tax break, and basically let the ownerless, moneyless, interestless properties deteriorate until such time as they become a public nuisance slotted for publicly financed demolition; or
2. Foreclose on the debt and make an effort to re-sell the property by making the bare minimum in improvements needed to bring it up to habitable condition.
Choice number one contributes to vacancy and boarded-up houses and blight and the further destruction of neighborhoods in the already troubled East Side. Choice number two may take more effort, but it gives the investor at least an opportunity to recoup some of the lent money, and helps to at least stanch the exodus from the East Side.
What Collins did is MBBA writ small.
Responding to News inquiries, Collins sounds like my 7-year old:
“What was I supposed to do?” asked Collins. “I’ve never had any ownership in these properties, and I’ve never had any interest in being a landlord. I don’t have the wherewithal to find tenants and manage properties.”
Collins admits it was a mistake to invest in the rental properties and said he paid the price — a loss of about $200,000 on his investment. He also said he never knew about code violations at the properties.
“It did not make me happy,” he said of the loans he wrote off. “For the last 10 years, I never saw a penny.”
Housing advocates, concerned about disinvestment in Buffalo’s poorer neighborhoods, see a flaw in Collins’ thinking.
I think that Collins’ choice in this instance speaks volumes.
(Photo Credit: FixBuffalo)