For the third year in a row, community organizers of the “Adopt a House” project are gathering volunteers to make improvements to several owner occupied homes in the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood.
The initiative was started by the South Fillmore Block Club as a grassroots way to help homeowners on Fillmore Avenue with basic repairs and exterior painting. The group focused their efforts on assisting elderly homeowners, homes frequented by children and low-income homeowners so that they could address the properties with the highest need. In the first two years, the Adopt a House volunteers completed work on four houses and thus helped prevent housing violations, reduce lead exposure, and improve the general streetscape on the Fillmore Corridor.
“What started this whole thing was finding out that there were people in our block club who had housing violations – some who are elderly and low-income, so it’s tough for them to keep up with the necessary painting,” said Paul Harris, South Fillmore Block Club president. “There are assistance programs out there, but the qualification process is cumbersome. So we decided to just do something about it ourselves by gathering funding and putting together a program that would leverage our own strengths. Mark Stevens (SF Block Club member and owner of Wilson Street Urban Farm) has a lot of experience with carpentry, I’m an engineer with project management experience, and we’ve got other people who bring other valuable skills to the table.”
This year, the South Fillmore Block Club will be collaborating with the Greater East Side Field of Dreams Block Club to expand the project scope beyond Fillmore Avenue and tackle homes located on several neighboring side streets, including Coit, Detroit and Townsend.
“Their block club had heard about what we were doing and wanted to learn more about Adopt a House, so I spoke at one of their meetings and they voted to be part of the program,” Harris said. “By joining forces, we’ll be able to do more houses and get more people on the team. Thus, we can do more to try to help people who need us, to get them out of housing court or prevent them from being in housing court, and to beautify the area as well.”
The project kicked off last Saturday at 196 Wilson Street and will continue with workdays held every Saturday throughout the month of August. Crews will tackle a different site each weekend, with the goal of completing six houses total by the end of the month.
“We are so excited to have this opportunity to work in solidarity with our neighbors of the South Fillmore Block Club on the Adopt a House Program,” said Terra Dumas, Greater East Side Field of Dreams Block Club secretary and founder of Common Roots Farm. “I believe being able to serve our community in this grassroots way is an important step in helping bring back hope and trust to a neighborhood that has been neglected for so long.”
Volunteers are still needed to complete the remaining projects. Work days run from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with a break for lunch at the Wilson Street Urban Farm (located on Wilson Street between Broadway and Sycamore Streets). The schedule for work sites is as follows:
Saturday, August 13: Meet at 124 Coit Street to work on 77 Coit, 89 Coit, and 185 Townsend
Saturday, August 20: 242 Coit Street
Saturday, August 27: Common Roots Farm, corner of Peckham & Coit Streets
Volunteers will be provided with lunch, water and a T-shirt. Those interested in volunteering can reach out to the South Fillmore Block Club via email at email@example.com.
The Adopt a House initiative is supported by funding from Fillmore District Councilman David Franczyk and Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services. The group has also received donations of paint and supplies from Buffalo Wallpaper & Paint and Summerset Painting, as well as volunteer support from Local Carpenters Union 276 and community members. Businesses in the Broadway Market contributed food donations for the volunteers, including Camellia Meats and Lewandowski Produce.