By Kaitlyn Lionti
Published from Time Warner Cable News
BUFFALO, N.Y. — PUSH Buffalo and Housing Visions Unlimited were proud Wednesday to show off the Massachusetts Avenue Community Homes: 46 new energy-efficient, affordable rental units for low-income households throughout the neighborhood near West Utica Street.
“What’s lovely is, up until this point, PUSH has only had 18 rented units, and these are all permanently affordable apartments, and not just affordable, but they are built to be sustainable,” said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, PUSH Buffalo Development Director, “so as we are thinking about climate change, and the impacts of what that’s going to mean for low-income communities like the west side, we are really making sure that these beautiful homes that we have are now built to be sustainable.”
Sustainability makes an important difference for residents, as according to PUSH, many were paying more in utilities than rent.
“We’ve used affordability as a spark for the neighborhood. It can be a tremendous upswing to know that people can see investment going on and this is a large-scale investment, it’s on multiple blocks,” said Ben Lockwood, Housing Visions VP of Development. “This is so much more than Extreme Home Makeover.”
The $13.4 million project significantly rehabbed 7 buildings and constructed 9 new ones, and PUSH made sure it reflected the community’s vision for the area.
“The resident engagement comes in the fact that they decide where we’re going to build, are we going to demolish this home? Are we going to renovate this home? The other thing, we refer to it as being economic development without displacement, so we’re making sure that the people that are the longstanding residents here can stay here,” said Ghirmatzion.
“We are so proud of the work that’s happening right here in the west side of Buffalo that’s really cultivating a new quality of life in this community and is resonating throughout all of the city of Buffalo, and Western New York and the state of New York,” said state Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo.
Along with housing units, the project includes community space, laundry facilities and a business center. Also planned: two storefronts which will be selected soon.
“Some of our favorites right now are potentially for a children’s consignment shop to go in here and another thing is possibly some kind of food entity from one of our immigrant-refugee communities,” Ghirmatzion said.