Tonawanda News

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March 9, 2013

Welfare rent reform bill pitched

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — He’s not overly confident that the measure would pass in the state Senate, let alone the Assembly, however.

On the request of Niagara County legislator Cheree J. Copelin, R-Niagara Falls, Maziarz’s legal staff researched state law to determine whether landlords have any recourse now when it comes to welfare clients not turning over their rent subsidies.

It turns out they do. Regulations by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance say stiffed landlords can request a finding by Social Services that a temporary assistance client is unable to handle money responsibly. In the event that finding is made, Social Services is able to bypass the client and give his rent subsidy to the landlord every month.

Maziarz said he’d fully expect other senators to ask why Niagara County needs different rules than the rest of the state, or why it doesn’t employ the unable-client finding system that’s already in place.

Further, he said, he’s asked around about demand for the law change that LAGN advocates and finds it seems to be limited to property owners in Niagara Falls.

Never once when Maziarz represented a portion of Rochester did he field a similar concern, he said; the mayors of North Tonawanda and Lockport have told him it’s not an issue they’re hearing now, even after ample news reporting of LAGN’s lobby effort. He said he even asked the mayor of Yonkers, N.Y., a city with four times the population of Niagara Falls, whether it’s an issue there. 

“His answer to me was, ‘if it is, nobody’s told me so.’”

Nonetheless, Maziarz said, “if it’s a problem in Niagara Falls, I want to help get it solved.” He plans on asking state Assembly member Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, to sponsor companion legislation in the Democratic-led Assembly, he added.

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