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Reinvestment Equals Return

The first signs of the grassroots ‘500 in 5’ initiative can now be seen at the corner of Brayton and Massachusetts on the city’s West Side. This temporary fix does more than just add a splash of color to these City-owned vacant properties – it signals the exact location of each structure that is in line to be rehabbed (rather than demoed). The hard-fought rescue effort will ultimately return a good number of City-owned houses to The City’s tax roll, once they are transferred, fixed up and sold back to the community.

Thanks to progressive organizations such as People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) and Buffalo ReUse, we can look forward to retaining more neighborhood infill instead of anticipating countless empty lots to be added to The City’s list of vacant lot property holdings (not to mention the cost of a house demo). In the meantime, these boarded up structures are getting a colorful facade lift thanks to the Neighborhood Peace Mural Project (see back story). Eventually they will be fixed up and sold, with the intention of allowing the cycle to continue through reinvestment, reuse, and re-population.

From Harvey Garrett, Executive Director of West Side Community Collaborative:

“The boards went up during Martin Luther King Day. PUSH and Buffalo ReUse both wanted to make an impact on Obama’s Day of Service. A lot of people had a day off and a challenge was presented within a number of different neighborhoods. Most of the properties that they worked on are properties that PUSH is planning on rehabbing as part of the 500 in 5 initiative. The 500 in 5 rehab plan is in direct response to The Mayor’s proposal to demolish 5000 properties in 5 years. Members of The Council, PUSH, ReUse and concerned citizens proposed that The Mayor should spend money rehabbing the savable properties rather than demoing them. The Mayor agreed to work with PUSH, which has a tie-in with Buffalo ReUse on this project.”

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From Caesandra Seawell, Director of Community Programs at Buffalo ReUse:

“We had forty volunteers all total working on the Day of Service. Along with ReUse and PUSH members, we also had volunteers from the USA Service site and members of AmeriCorps. Ellen Barrey, an Urban Planning professor at UB, gave her students extra credit for volunteering that day. The murals had been stored at a warehouse because last year we had trouble finding rehab properties to put them on. Then we contacted PUSH to identify the houses that they were planning on rehabbing. We boarded up six houses on MLK Day (houses are on Massachusetts and Chenango and West Utica). Thirty-two schools participated in painting the murals. We’re still looking for houses that are scheduled to be rehabbed – we are looking for five to six houses seeing as we have fifty additional murals that are not being used.”

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From Harrison Watkins, Community Organizer at PUSH:

“The houses are in the process of being transferred to PUSH from The City. The Mayor has made a commitment to transfer the properties – I believe that the total is $400,000 for the two houses on Massachusetts. We do have a timeline – the boards serve as a temporary beautification and security measure until we can break ground in the spring. We’re also expecting grant money totaling $1.3 million from the Department of Home and Community Renewal (State Agency). That money will be allocated to the following ten units. We have a core concentration area on the West Side where we are focusing our rehab efforts. The goal is to provide a good model that can be replicated in other parts of the city. It’s a way to turn a negative issue into a positive one. We look forward to rehabbing as many homes as we can.” 

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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