Some families living in the Fillmore Corridor will be receiving some much-needed upgrades to their homes, thanks to a recent grant from the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation.
Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services (BFNHS) hosted a press conference Friday with Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes to announce that $200,000 had been allocated to help 20 income-eligible homeowners make repairs to their houses. The M&T Foundation also awarded BFNHS a $20,000 grant to allow the organization to build its capacity in order to implement the AHC grant. Two new staff members have been brought in to provide specification writing for the AHC grant and to manage BFNHS’ special projects and existing programs.
According to John Murphy, executive director of BFNHS and HomeFront, Inc., the upgrades will consist largely of single-focus rehab projects, such as upgrades to furnaces, windows and roofs. “A huge need is roofs, as many have lived their useful lives and need complete ‘tear-offs’ to put on solid roof decks, ice guard, felt and architectural shingles,” he said.
Murphy says that the organization plans to implement green upgrades where possible, especially in the case of roofing. “White roofing has been a strategy for warm weather climates to reduce radiant heat absorbed more fully by dark roofs, with a way to reduce/minimize hair conditioning. I think that is applicable to Western New York,” he said.
Not only would this lead to lower energy bills, but the reduction in energy consumption would also lead to fewer carbon dioxide emissions. According to an article published by the U.S. Green Building Council (source), if we were to replace all the flat black roofs in the world with white ones, the impact would be similar to taking half the cars in the world off the road for the next 20 years.
“That struck me as having global implications, not just for the homeowners,” Murphy said. “The literature says white roofs also last longer because of reduced expansion/contraction of high daytime heat to cooler night temps, so that also seems worthwhile to me on a material reduction strategy. Flat roofs would use white rubber membranes, and white metal is also a possibility. I personally think it would be a great ‘branding’ look for the green corridor we are trying to create on Fillmore.”
Friday’s announcement lead to an immediate influx of phone calls from homeowners eager to get on the waiting list for repair applications. With the new staff in place and an orientation session for homeowners planned for this Thursday, BFNHS is ready to get the process started with the first ten households. They would like to focus on applicants who need roofing repairs first, in the interest of finishing those upgrades before winter.
According to Murphy, homeowners will be required to take a financial literacy course as part of the upgrade process. The organization will also be working with NYSERDA to leverage other improvements to participants’ homes based on the 60 percent area median income HEAP guidelines.
Residents and community organizations have also been working together to bring other resources for revitalization to the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. The Fillmore Corridor Neighborhood Coalition (FCNC) and the South Fillmore Block Club collaborated on an initiative to promote recycling and reduce litter by creating unique receptacles for the Fillmore area. With the help of Councilman David Franczyk and the Oishei Foundation, they raised $10,000 to add four containers, which were designed by Daemen College students to have a uniquely East Buffalo aesthetic. Paired with the housing renovations and a recent historic preservation grant awarded to Corpus Christi Church, these projects are a significant sign of progress and a new energy emerging in Broadway-Fillmore.
“This once neglected neighborhood is finally receiving the attention and coordinated investment that it deserves,” said Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes. “This $200,000 grant, combined with continued improvements to MLK Park and the federal streetscape project already underway, serve as a catalyst to the rebirth of the MLK Park neighborhood. I’m very proud of our community activists for being undeterred in their relentlessness, but our fight is far from over. We’ll need your continued commitment.”
“To build a stronger Buffalo, we need to strengthen our neighborhoods – and this grant from the state will help us do exactly that,” said Senator Kennedy. “This direct investment in Broadway-Fillmore’s housing stock will help lift the entire neighborhood, which has been targeted for revitalization. Through our coordinated efforts and relentless hard work, Broadway-Fillmore is fighting back – and we all know the best is yet to come. There’s much more work to be done, but with this state investment, there’s more progress ahead for this historic neighborhood.”
(Broadway-Fillmore 1): Senator Kennedy and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes join Broadway-Fillmore neighbors and housing officials.
(Broadway-Fillmore 2): Senator Kennedy announces new housing grant for Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood with Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes and Broadway-Fillmore NHS board members and staff.
(Broadway-Fillmore 3): John Murphy, executive director of Broadway-Fillmore NHS, highlights the Fillmore Corridor revitalization area for Senator Kennedy and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes.