The New York State Legislature created the Buffalo Housing Court in 1978 to address a crisis of deteriorating housing stock that continues to the present day. The Housing Court has the duty to protect and promote the public interest and may fashion innovative remedies for the thousands of code violation cases it handles each year. The Buffalo Housing Court is dedicated to treating each problem property in its neighborhood context and solving the underlying causes of abandonment, degradation, and distress in our communities.
Over the past several years, the current Housing Court Judge has undertaken a much-lauded and largely volunteer reform effort designed to improve the court’s ability to dramatically improve the quality of life for city residents, workers and businesses. These improvements include a restructuring of the court’s intake and scheduling methods to facilitate community participation and feedback, the creation of receivership programs that allow the court to oversee property repairs and fine collection, as well as the contribution of community liaisons who provide assistance with case management, research, and communication with neighborhood activists.
As a result of generous funding from the John R. Oishei Foundation and the State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Buffalo Housing Court now has Executive Director Melinda Gullo and Program Coordinator Shekuira Feaster to manage the various programs and coordinate the liaisons and volunteers. As a result, the court has increased community participation in case disposition and provides meaningful, effective, and efficient solutions for the properties cited by the City of Buffalo.
Additionally, in 2007, the court welcomed Court Attorney Mark Doane to assist in handling the approximately 7,000 annual eviction cases in the City of Buffalo. By coordinating those cases with the Housing Violations cases, the court has taken a more comprehensive approach in addressing all of the housing-related issues throughout the City.