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Paterson on Buffalo: Sustainable Neighborhoods Project

In today’s State of the State address, Governor David Paterson not only recognized Buffalo’s struggle with abandoned housing, but he has put the City of Buffalo first in line, saying, “With more than 23,000 vacant housing units, Buffalo will serve as the starting point for the project which will expand to cities across New York State.”
Governor Paterson proposes the Sustainable Neighborhoods Project as a national model for affordable housing and urban revitalization, starting here.
Resulting from decades of post-industrial economic decline that have exacerbated the vacant housing crisis, together with the foreclosure and sub-prime crises, Paterson understands the negative impact this has on future economic development, homeownership and in-migration.  The abandoned houses and ravaged, once vital neighborhoods serve to perpetuate “the perception that the region’s urban areas are in a downward spiral,” according to Paterson.
“There is no other region of the country with the affordable housing stock, the close-by schools, the natural beauty and the untouched small towns that families would cherish. We need to return to promoting all that we have to offer,” Governor Paterson said. “Part of that effort must include revitalizing prime housing stock that currently sits vacant and turning it into long-term affordable housing, starting in Buffalo…”
In Paterson’s plan, local officials will designate blighted homes for rehabilitation and sale to first time homeowners; houses will be marketed as long-term affordable housing and homeowners would be selected through a lottery process.  The City of Buffalo has not issued a statement about the governor’s remarks as of yet.
 
In a more holistic approach, PUSH Buffalo’s Eric Walker says, “We are eager to work with the Governor to build a national model for sustainable community development incorporating green jobs training, green rehab, weatherization and urban agriculture. We think Buffalo can lead the way in demonstrating that urban neighborhoods have tremendous assets, including arable land and residents who are eager to participate in the New Economy.”
Other projects on the table for that neighborhood include a rehabilitated park and more green housing in 2010. “We look forward to working with the Governor to implement the new investment in the Neighborhood,” said Aaron Bartley, PUSH Executive Director. “We are very excited to explore the avenues opened to us by this partnership with the Governor.”
The proximity to newly renovated schools for many of these houses all over the city, but most especially on the East and West Sides, should help the schools to maintain the students they need, through bringing in families that are willing to be part of revitalized school communities with revitalized housing stock.

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Other topics Paterson discussed today were fiscal reform, ethics reform, Excelsior job programs (tax credits, new jobs), economic development and job creation, a New York Insurance Exchange program and the development of clean energy economy, all of which can be seen in-depth here.  
Governor Paterson pledges, “We will come full circle from the fiscal chaos in our own State budget to helping rebuild our State and nation after the chaos of a national meltdown. The plan I have outlined today will make us stronger, grow our economy, and get New Yorkers back to work.”
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