Last Friday, leaders from People United for Sustainable Housing and city officials gathered at 99 Chenango Street for an official groundbreaking celebration for its newest project: Massachusetts Avenue Sustainable Homes (MASH). This project will renovate two vacant historic buildings and build one new structure, resulting in five new affordable, energy efficient apartments for neighborhood residents.
“We’re excited about the MASH project. Taking two long vacant historic properties and redeveloping them for affordable living that creates quality local jobs in the process, is a great thing for this community” said Aaron Bartley, PUSH’s executive director.
This groundbreaking came right on the heels of PUSH’s Community Congress event, held Thursday evening at their Grant Street headquarters. About 150 West Side residents attended, weighing in on the changes they’d like to see happening in their neighborhoods in terms of parks, bike lanes, affordable housing, infrastructure, etc. PUSH intends to incorporate these ideas into their master plan, holding themselves accountable to the residents living in their development zone.
“Right now what we have is a community development committee adopted by the board. And it originally started a few years back,” said PUSH Buffalo Community Organizing Director Jennifer Mecozzi-Rivera. “Neighbors who we meet with our monthly meetings will step up as folks who really care about their community, have pointed out eyesores or dangerous properties. Or issues they’ve identified are a health hazard.”
Staying consistent with its community-based mission, PUSH has drawn up a Community Benefit Agreement with General Contractor Savarino Construction that will aim to hire laborers from the local community and utilize neighborhood-based subcontractors. Three neighborhood residents have already been hired to work on the MASH project.
“Historic homes are beautiful, they’re part of the fabric of Buffalo and we’re very happy to restore them, but it’s not easy work,” said Bartley. “We really have to take it down to the studs, re-wire it, re-plumb it, make it super sustainable in terms of energy efficiency by insulating it well and put the house back together.”
39 Massachusetts Avenue (new build – below). Plans by Sutton Architecture.