Buffalo Commons

Library

The knowledge, ideas, and tools collected here can make our community a better place to live, and they belong to all of us. We hope they help you achieve great things.

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Affordable Housing Strategies for the City of Buffalo

Sarah Wooton, Samantha Peterson-Borins, Sam Magavern — Dec 1, 2017

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Performance-Based Assessment for ELLs

Bridget Murphy — Nov 29, 2017

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500 Cities Project- Local Data for Better Health, Buffalo, NY

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Center for Disease Control and Prevention — Nov 27, 2017

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A Profile of Childhood Obesity in Erie County

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County — Nov 27, 2017

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A Profile of Financial Hardship in Erie County

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County — Nov 27, 2017

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A Profile of Premature Birth in Erie County

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County — Nov 27, 2017

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A Profile of Third-Grade Reading Proficiency in Erie County

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County — Nov 27, 2017

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Child Care Subsidy Fact Sheet

WNY Women's Foundation — Nov 27, 2017

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State of Play in Western New York

Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation — Nov 27, 2017

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WNY Girls in Sports

WNY Women's Foundation — Nov 27, 2017

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WNY Women & Children Living in Poverty Fact Sheet

WNY Women's Foundation — Nov 27, 2017

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Higher Education’s Anchor Mission Measuring Place-Based Engagement

Democracy Collaborative, Emily Sladek — Nov 22, 2017

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The Unlikely History of Tolstoy College

Jennifer Wilson — Nov 22, 2017

"Tolstoy College was an anarchist educational community active at the University at Buffalo between 1969 and 1985. The school was part of a larger project by president Martin Meyerson to transform University at Buffalo into a “Berkeley of the East,” with hopes of aligning the university with increasing student activism across the country. By the mid-1970s, Tolstoy College’s anarchist teachings were viewed as a threat to the university administration. In a 1976 letter to the …

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What If...Pathways to Progress Vol. 2: Women and Girls in WNY

WNY Women's Foundation — Nov 22, 2017

The original 2010 Pathways to Progress Report provided a foundation for moving forward, the start of an ongoing region-wide dialogue on supporting women and girls and a call to action to us all. Pathways to Progress Vol. 2 expands this dialogue with updated data that explores the barriers and opportunities that WNY women face throughout their lifespans. The report, paired with an online data hub, is a resource for the community to understand the issues and take action to affect change. *Not …

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Taking the High Road to Canalside: How Community Activism Has Shaped Buffalo’s Waterfront

Michelle Zhao — Oct 27, 2017

This policy brief documents the efforts of local advocates to bring “High Road” economic development to Canalside, to advance community benefits over corporate control. It was drafted by Michelle Zhao, the 2017 Cornell High Road Fellow at Partnership for the Public Good. After setting out the historical context of Canalside and the fight that won its preservation, the brief focuses on the period of 2004 to 2015. It details the proposal to bring a Bass Pro Shop to the Inner Harbor, …

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Equity Preservation Final Report

Akanksha Chauhan, Melanie Colter, Mengbing Du, Luis Graveley, Jr, Mengyu Guo, Sena Kayasu, Jonathan Ladley, Cole Norgaarden, Claire Meyer, Jennifer Minner, Thomas Pera, Ashley Pryce, Lucas Raley, Zach Small, Jessica Stevenson, Michelle Van Meter, Andrew Varuzzo, Olivia White, Vivian Zou, Joey Jiayun Zou — Oct 25, 2017

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Another Voice: Build on Progress in Police Reforms

Sarah Wooton, Denise Walden — Oct 23, 2017

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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Lou Jean Fleron — Oct 20, 2017

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Recycling Policies For Businesses 2017

Buffalo Recycling Alliance — Sep 27, 2017

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Better Policing for the City of Buffalo: Toward Community, Transparency, and Justice

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin — Sep 26, 2017

This policy brief recommends that the Buffalo Police Department expand its community policing efforts through culture change and incentives, a diversified police force, increased training, improved transparency and oversight, more restorative justice and diversion programs, and the use of crime prevention through environmental design.  The brief is based on “Collaboration, Communication, and Community-Building: A New Model of Policing for 21st Century Buffalo,” a 2016 PPG …

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Buffalo Transit Riders United: Community Agenda Plank Video

UB Media Studies — Jun 27, 2017

In the spring of 2017, students from Professor Dorothea Braemer's class in the UB Media Studies department collaborated with community organizers to create videos on 4 of the PPG Agenda plank issues.

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Create a Signature Park on the Outer Harbor: Community Agenda Plank Video

UB Media Studies — Jun 27, 2017

In the spring of 2017, students from Professor Dorothea Braemer's class in the UB Media Studies department collaborated with community organizers to create videos on 4 of the 2017 Community Agenda plank issues.

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Lead Safety: Community Agenda Plank Video

UB Media Studies — Jun 27, 2017

In the spring of 2017, students from Professor Dorothea Braemer's class in the UB Media Studies department collaborated with community organizers to create videos on 4 of the 2017 Community Agenda plank issues.

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Transitioning off Public Assistance: Community Agenda Plank Video

UB Media Studies — Jun 27, 2017

In the spring of 2017, students from Professor Dorothea Braemer's class in the UB Media Studies department collaborated with community organizers to create videos on four of the 2017 Community Agenda plank issues.

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Why Buffalo Needs Inclusionary Zoning; Affordability, Workforce Development, Inclusion, and Quality Housing

Sam Magavern, Sarah Wooton — Jun 2, 2017

Buffalo’s housing market faces four severe challenges: affordability, job access, inclusiveness, and quality.  Inclusionary zoning is a proven tool for addressing all four issues.  Inclusionary zoning asks that when a developer creates new housing units, it reserve a certain percent for affordable housing.  Thus, inclusionary zoning leverages the power of the market to create more high-quality affordable housing units, often near job centers and transit lines, and to make …

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FB Community Land Trust Fundraiser

John Marsland — Jun 1, 2017

In the fall of 2016, History PhD Candidate John Marsland from the University at Buffalo began a public humanities fellowship in which the creation of the FB Community Land Trust would form a focal point. Working with Steve Peraza and Sam Magavern at the Partnership for the Public Good, this project sought to complete the Historic and Cultural Restoration aspect of PPG’s “A Plan the Bears Fruit” policy brief. This project began by attending a series of meetings of the Community …

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John Marsland Interview: Dennice Barr Pt1

John Marsland — Jun 1, 2017

In the fall of 2016, History PhD Candidate John Marsland from the University at Buffalo began a public humanities fellowship in which the creation of the FB Community Land Trust would form a focal point. Working with Steve Peraza and Sam Magavern at the Partnership for the Public Good, this project sought to complete the Historic and Cultural Restoration aspect of PPG’s “A Plan the Bears Fruit” policy brief. This project began by attending a series of meetings of the Community …

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John Marsland Interview: Dennice Barr Pt2

John Marsland — Jun 1, 2017

In the fall of 2016, History PhD Candidate John Marsland from the University at Buffalo began a public humanities fellowship in which the creation of the FB Community Land Trust would form a focal point. Working with Steve Peraza and Sam Magavern at the Partnership for the Public Good, this project sought to complete the Historic and Cultural Restoration aspect of PPG’s “A Plan the Bears Fruit” policy brief. This project began by attending a series of meetings of the Community …

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John Marsland Interview: Nathaniel Cole

John Marsland — Jun 1, 2017

In the fall of 2016, History PhD Candidate John Marsland from the University at Buffalo began a public humanities fellowship in which the creation of the FB Community Land Trust would form a focal point. Working with Steve Peraza and Sam Magavern at the Partnership for the Public Good, this project sought to complete the Historic and Cultural Restoration aspect of PPG’s “A Plan the Bears Fruit” policy brief. This project began by attending a series of meetings of the Community …

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John Marsland Interview: Zaid Islam

John Marsland — Jun 1, 2017

In the fall of 2016, History PhD Candidate John Marsland from the University at Buffalo began a public humanities fellowship in which the creation of the FB Community Land Trust would form a focal point. Working with Steve Peraza and Sam Magavern at the Partnership for the Public Good, this project sought to complete the Historic and Cultural Restoration aspect of PPG’s “A Plan the Bears Fruit” policy brief. This project began by attending a series of meetings of the Community …

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Life on a Nickel's Edge: Struggle and Dignity in Buffalo's Fruit Belt

John Marsland — Jun 1, 2017

This purpose of this fact sheet is to give a brief overview of the Fruit Belt neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side in relation to community demographics, development, and efforts to control land use through the creation of the FB Community Land Trust. This fact sheet has three parts: an introduction to the 2016-2017 Humanities New York public humanities fellowship project; information gained from the conduct of that fellowship; links to other work that has been done in relation to the …

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The Story of the Puerto Rican-Chicano Committee (PRCC)

Alberto O. Cappas, Jose C. Pizarro — Jun 1, 2017

The concept or idea for The Puerto Rican-Chicano Committee (PRCC) came from UB student Alberto O. Cappas, who also was the original founder of PODER, at the time known as the Puerto Rican Organization for Dignity, Elevation, and Responsibility. Puerto Rican students, mostly from Buffalo, were instrumental in its development. A student by the name of Gloria Rodriguez, served as its first president. Shortly, the Puerto Rican students from New York City, added to the organization’s …

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2016 Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Western New York

Homeless Alliance of Western New York — May 11, 2017

This report uses the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) year (10/1/2015- 9/30/2016) as the time frame and is mostly reliant on data from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), known in Buffalo as Buffalo Area Service Network (BAS-Net). This timeframe corresponds to the federal fiscal year, used because many homelessness alleviation providers use funds from the federal government. This time period is also used because the annual Erie and Niagara County homelessness data is …

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Advancing Health Equity andd Inclusive Growth in Buffalo

PolicyLink, PERE — May 8, 2017

With millions in public and private investments in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Governor Cuomo's historic "Buffalo Billion" investment in economic development, the city of Buffalo, New York, is poised for resurgence. As is true in cities and regions across the country, communities of color are growing and buffering overall population loss. But if new investments do not address persistent racial and economic inequities, the city's long-term economic future is at risk.

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Health Equity: The Path to Inclusive Prosperity in Buffalo

Tracey Ross — May 8, 2017

With billions in public and private investments in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Governor Cuomo’s historic “Buffalo Billion” investment in economic development, the city of Buffalo is poised for resurgence. Yet persistent racial inequities in health, wealth, and economic opportunity inhibit the city’s growth. Without a change in course, these inequities will take a heavy toll on the city as immigrants and communities of color grow as a share of its population …

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"Locked in Buffalo's Socioeconomic Basement": An examination of Political and Institutional Racial Discrimination and its Effects on the local African American Community

Shanleigh Corrallo — Feb 14, 2017

This paper addresses the African American community in Buffalo, New York, and critically examines how local politics, interest groups and financial institutions negatively impacted the socioeconomic development of the city’s East Side.

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Lead Poisoning: Triggers and Thresholds

Adam Hains — Feb 10, 2017

Hains reviews the basic framework of federal and state laws aimed at preventing lead poisoning.  Given the growing body of research that even small amounts of lead cause can decrease cognitive performance and increase behavioral problems, Hains suggests that New York State lower its threshold of concern and supply additional funding, so that more children receive case management services and more units get their lead problems abated.

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Breaking Down Misconceptions About Poverty

Sam Magavern — Feb 1, 2017

What does an average poor family look like? The image that you just had in mind wasn't the one.  The reality is really different.

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Buffalo Arts and Culture Organizations

Open Buffalo — Dec 8, 2016

Open Buffalo and Partnership for the Public Good collaboratively compiled a directory of organizations that promote social justice through locally based arts and cultural programmatic efforts.  This directory has contact information, as well as the mission and social justice commitment of the various organizations.   

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Collaboration, Communication and Community-Building

Nov 18, 2016

As the nation strives to improve police-community relations, safeguard the lives of officers and residents, and reduce crime while respecting civil liberties, voices around the country – from President Obama to ordinary citizens – are calling for more community policing.  The Buffalo Police Department (BPD) has taken important steps toward embracing community policing, such as hiring community police officers, providing all officers with some community policing training, …

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Fruit Belt Neighborhood Asset Inventory

Sara Alpert — Oct 27, 2016

The Fruit Belt is bordered by North Street on the north, Jefferson Street on the east, the Kensington Expressway on the south, and Michigan Street on the west.  The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) lies directly west of the Fruit Belt, across Michigan Street.  Historically, the neighborhood was much larger, encompassing the area where the BNMC is now located, and stretching from Main Street in the West to Best Street in the north, and Genesee Street in the east.  However, …

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The Public Service Commission Should Deny National Fuel's Request for a Rate Hike

Oct 26, 2016

National Fuel (NF) has requested a rate hike of $41.7 million per year.  The Public Service Commission (PSC) should deny this request because: It will unduly burden low-income customers, who are already struggling to pay their utility bills; NF is a very profitable company, with skyrocketing executive compensation and large dividends; As noted by the PSC’s auditors and other experts, many of NF’s claimed expenses are questionable; and Instead of investing in additional fossil …

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Inclusionary Zoning: Creating Equity and Lasting Affordability in the City of Buffalo, New York

Skye Hart, Victoria Neenan, Buffalo Inclusionary Housing Coalition — Oct 12, 2016

The City of Buffalo is experiencing fast-rising rents and housing prices in the midst of severe and growing poverty.  New housing is being built, with generous subsidies from the taxpayers, but most of it is luxury or market-rate apartments and condominiums.   Far from aiding the affordability crisis, this new development is worsening it, particularly in neighborhood such as downtown, the West Side and Fruit Belt, where gentrification is underway and displacement of lower income …

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West Side Study

Clint McManus — Oct 1, 2016

Buffalo, New York is no stranger to spatial segregation along racial and economic lines.  Conventional wisdom throughout the region traces this historic divide along the length of Main Street, a north-south corridor.  It is widely believed that Buffalo’s affluent neighborhoods sit to the west, with low-income neighborhoods in the east.  While Main Street serves as an easy point of reference, Buffalo’s demographics are not binary.  Even dividing the city into …

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Utilization of Language Services for Clients with Limited English Proficiency Protocols

Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. — Sep 26, 2016

The US Census Bureau, 2008-2012 American Community Survey, estimated that 29,786 people or 9.9% of the residents in Erie County speak English less than “very well” and speak another language at home; in Niagara County 5.1% of the residents speak English less than “very well” and speak another language at home; in Genesee County 4% of the residents speak English less than “very well” and speak another language at home; in Orleans County 6.4% of the residents …

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Credit Unions and Banks Near Downtown Buffalo

Jul 6, 2016

Fact Sheet outlining credit unions and banks near Downtown Buffalo.

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A Plan that Bears Fruit: A Community Land Trust and Other Tools For Neighborhood Revitalization in the Fruit Belt

Jun 22, 2016

On December 1, 2015, the City of Buffalo’s Common Council passed a resolution placing a moratorium on the sale of city-owned lots in the Fruit Belt neighborhood.  The Fruit Belt includes the area enclosed by Cherry Street, Jefferson Avenue, Best Street, Main Street, Goodell Street, and Michigan Avenue – a neighborhood where the City of Buffalo owns over 200 vacant lots.  The City promised not to sell lots to developers until “a duly approved strategic plan” had …

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Energy Poverty in Buffalo's West Side: PUSH, National Fuel, and the Fight for Equitable Energy Access

Anthony Hilbert — Jun 16, 2016

Energy poverty, the condition of households that cannot adequately heat their homes, is a chronic problem resulting from low income, high fuel prices, and poorly insulated, energy inefficient houses.  In addition to financial strain, energy poverty causes severe social and health problems for people living in under-heated homes (Boardman 1991; 2013).  Despite its seriousness and pervasiveness, energy poverty has been ignored too often in the US.  Those that suffer through energy …

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Bangladeshi Immigrants in Buffalo

Jun 1, 2016

Bangladeshi immigrants have relocated to Buffalo, New York, at a pace that has surprised many.  The size of Buffalo’s Bangladeshi population is unknown.  The U.S. Census estimates that 316 Bangladeshis live in Buffalo, but Liberty Yellow Taxi alone employs about 367.  Most Bangladeshi praise Buffalo, but some worry that social and religious intolerance is growing.  A number of men in the mosque have expressed concern about anti-Muslim rhetoric on local talk …

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A Planning Board for Erie County

Apr 13, 2016

The Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) unites 212organizations working to build a better western New York.  Each year, the partners vote on their top policy priorities for the coming year; these priorities become the PPG Community Agenda.  The very first Community Agenda, formed in 2008, included a provision calling for a planning board in Erie County.  Since that time, the reasons for a planning board have only become more compelling.  There is a reason that every other …

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Buffalo Niagara at the Crossroads: How State Energy Policies can Lead Western New York to a Green, Prosperous, and Just Future

Mar 16, 2016

Buffalo Niagara stands at a climate crossroads.  Looking down one road, we can see a chance to rebuild impoverished neighborhoods with quality jobs, green affordable housing, community-owned renewable energy, urban farms, and community gardens, building on the highly successful example of the Green Development Zone on the city’s West Side.  Looking down another road, we can see an inequitable region made even more unjust and vulnerable by climate change impacts such as heat …

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A Community Benefit Agreement for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Mar 9, 2016

The BNMC is the region’s largest economic development project.  Clustering health institutions together on one campus creates many collaborations and efficiencies and increases the potential for spin-off job creation.  Inevitably, however, any large scale development also includes some negative side effects for the community, particularly those who live nearest to it.  Traffic and air pollution increase.  Parking becomes a problem on nearby residential streets.  …

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Buffalo's Proposed Unified Development Ordinance

Jessie Fisher — Mar 1, 2016

For the first time since 1954, the City of Buffalo New York is undertaking a comprehensive review and complete overhaul of its zoning code, the result of which has been popularly dubbed “the Green Code.”  The City, particularly Mayor Brown and the leadership and staff at the Office of Strategic Planning are to be commended for undertaking this important task.  While there are many positive aspects of this effort, some changes are needed in order to ensure that the final …

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Redesigning the Scajaquada Expressway

Justin Booth — Feb 8, 2016

The Scajaquada Expressway was constructed in the early 1960’s and is now at the end of its functional life.  The redesign and rebuilding of the roadway offers the opportunity to make it less dangerous and more compatible with the natural, historic, and cultural fabric of the parks, parkways, neighborhoods, schools, colleges, and museums it serves and impacts.

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Buffalo Niagara - How Are We Really Doing

Lawrence Brooks — Jan 20, 2016

There has been a lot of good news lately in Buffalo: Harbor Center and Canalside, RiverBend and Solar City, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus expansion, new hotels and restaurants, even an uptick in employment and population.  But most of this good news is economic, and there is much more to our region than just economic activity.  These positive developments have prompted reactions such as “rebirth” and “resurgence.”  But perspectives on Buffalo vary …

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Working Toward Equality

Sam Magavern — Jan 1, 2016

For all of the progress that our nation and our community have made toward equality, we remain plagued by severe racial disparities in many aspects of life.  Perhaps none is more troubling or more important than inequality in employment.  Access to a good job is, for most people, the key to a good life.  Something is sorely amiss when the black and Hispanic unemployment rates in Erie County are more than twice those of whites, and when people of color are earning just over 70 …

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The Potential Impact of Legalizing, Regulating, and Taxing Marijuana on Erie County and New York State

Sam Magavern — Oct 28, 2015

The costs of continuing the prohibition of marijuana far outweigh the benefits.  Prohibition costs the public a large amount of money in law enforcement expenses and lost tax revenue; it imposes great harms on individuals, families and neighborhoods by criminalizing relatively harmless behavior and spawning a large, violent, underground economy; and it contributes heavily to the large racial disparities in our criminal justice system.

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Greening the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Sep 1, 2015

The Medical Campus is dedicated to improving health, and a sustainable campus will improve the health of the patients, visitors, workers, and neighbors of the campus, as well as that of the general public.  Sustainability measures such as improving energy efficiency, promoting healthy transit, and reducing waste will provide long-term cost savings, freeing up dollars for research, treatment, and education.  The Campus is well-poised to become a national model for the types of …

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Ba Zan Lin Interview

The Public Good Radio — Jul 14, 2015

The Public Good Radio interview with Ba Zan Lin of the Burmese Community Support Center on WUFO AM 1080.

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Immigrants, Refugees, and Languages Spoken in Buffalo

Deandra Fike, Subin Chung, Emily Riordan — Jul 14, 2015

According to 2000 Census Data, Buffalo ranked last of 48 major metro areas in gaining immigrants, and the percentage of Buffalo residents born in foreign countries remains relatively low.  However, from 2000 to 2010, the Buffalo-Niagara Metro Area saw a 33% rise in foreign-born population, growing from 4.4% of the total population in 2000 to 6.0% in 2010.  The main reason for this increase is the number of refugees being resettled in Buffalo.  Refugees are people fleeing war, …

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Traffic Equity in Buffalo, New York

Sam Magavern — Jul 14, 2015

Traffic is not good or bad –it’s good and bad.  For example, traffic serves stores, restaurants, and cultural organizations.  However, traffic, especially vehicular traffic, also causes property damage, personal injury, pollution, illness, and premature death.  So, for example, by channeling motor vehicle traffic on expressways and major urban arterials, we are concentrating the bad in some places but also starving other areas of the good.  We need to build a …

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Eritrean Refugees in Buffalo

Jul 8, 2015

Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia, but began a struggle for independence in the 1960s and finally became established as a separate country in 1993.  The civil war that preceded the separation lasted for approximately 30 years, beginning while Eritrea was still considered part of Ethiopia and continued until 2000, even after independence was granted.  Three waves of migration from Eritrea to the US occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, as refugees escaped the violent civil war, finding …

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From Central Africa to Buffalo: Refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Rwanda, and Burundi

Jul 8, 2015

For the past several decades Central Africa has been wrought with conflict, including both civil wars and international conflicts.  Many different ethnic groups are involved in various capacities, creating tensions within and between countries.  Do not assume that individuals from the same country are of the same ethnic group or religious affiliation.  There are important differences among the ethnic and tribal groups, and because of the longstanding tensions among some of the …

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Nepali Bhutanese Refugees in Buffalo

Jul 8, 2015

Bhutanese refugees have a complicated history.  In the late 19th and early 20th century, an influx of undocumented Nepali immigrants into Bhutan occurred.  These individuals were settled in the southern region of Bhutan and referred to as Lhotshampas, meaning “southerners”.  The Bhutanese government enforced the Bhutanese Citizenship Act of 1958 as an effort to more closely control the immigration.  The government wished to promote cultural and national unity …

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Refugees from Iraq in Buffalo

Jul 8, 2015

The country of Iraq suffers from war and terrorism on a daily basis.  Currently the population of Iraq is approximately 28 million, of whom about 75% are Arab, 17% are Kurds and the remainder mostly Armenians, Assyrians and Turks.  The turmoil in Iraq includes violent disputes among Sunni Muslim and Shi’ite Muslim; persecution due to political allegiance; and targeting of vulnerable populations, such as women, by militias and insurgents.  Over two million Iraqis have …

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Refugees from Somalia in Buffalo

Jul 8, 2015

Somalia is a country that has been divided by civil war since the 1980s.  It began due to resistance to the regime of Siad Barre.  Once he was overthrown in the 1980s, the resulting power vacuum led to violence.  Peace efforts from multi-national groups, neighboring countries, and the United Nations have been attempted, but violence continues and has forced many to flee the country for safety.  Somalia is one of the most homogenous countries in Africa.  Approximately …

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Refugees from Sudan in Buffalo

Jul 8, 2015

Sudan is ethnically diverse and physically vast.  It has endured many years of violent civil war between the Arab/Muslim North and the Black/Christian South.  In 2011, South Sudan gained its independence from the North so that two governments now rule; however, the conflict has continued.  There are at least 10 different ethnic groups among the refugees from Sudan that have resettled in the United States.  Since 2003, New York State has resettled 897 Sudanese refugees, with …

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Yemeni Immigrants in Western New York

Jul 8, 2015

The country of Yemen came into being in May of 1990 when North Yemen merged with South Yemen.  Sanaa, the former capital of the North, became the political capital, and Aden, the former capital of the South, became the economic center.  Because of the less-developed economy in Yemen, many Yemenites (predominantly males) have emigrated out of the country seeking employment, often to send money back home.  In addition, a brutal police force and government have led to violence and …

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Afghan Refugees in Buffalo

Jul 7, 2015

Afghanistan is a diverse country with many different ethnicities, often differentiated by language or religious beliefs.  Many of the groups can also be found in the nations that border Afghanistan: Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China.  Since 2003, New York State has resettled 395 Afghan refugees, including 63 in 2013.  Many of these have settled in Erie County.  Many recently resettled individuals from Afghanistan have come with “SIV” …

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Burman, Karen, and Chin Refugees: From Burma to Buffalo

Jul 7, 2015

Burma, officially known as the Republic of Myanmar, is a small nation in Asia, bordering Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand.  For many years, the nation has suffered military dictatorship, inflicting violence and torture on various ethnic groups.  Burma is one of the most diverse countries in the world.  The largest ethnic groups, making up approximately 68% of the nation’s population, are the Burmans, also called Bamar.  Other ethnic groups include the Chin, …

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Best Practices in Language Access and Cultural Competency

International Institute of Buffalo, Jewish Family Services — Jul 1, 2015

Checklist outlining an agency/company's best practices and cultural environment for language access and competency.

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From Puerto Rico to Buffalo

Jun 22, 2015

Puerto Rico is currently an unincorporated territory of the U.S.  There is much debate over the future of Puerto Rico, usually focusing on three major choices; statehood, independence, or remaining a U.S. territory.  Since 1917, its people have been U.S. citizens, and their movement throughout the states is therefore officially termed internal migration.  However, the transition made by Puerto Ricans who move to the continental U.S. can involve the same changes and challenges …

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A Raise for Fast Food Workers Will Help Western New York

Sam Magavern — Jun 3, 2015

The most pressing problems in Western New York in many areas of life, including education, healthcare, and criminal justice, can be traced to a single root: poverty.  Families living in poverty suffer from lower graduation rates, more chronic diseases, and more criminal violence than families earning living wages.  In our region, as around the nation, roughly 45% of workers are employed in low-wage service sector jobs.  Those jobs are not going away; in fact, they are the fastest …

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Gamileh Jamil Interview

The Public Good Radio — Jun 2, 2015

The Public Good Radio interview with Gamileh Jamil of ACCESS on WUFO AM 1080.

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Lisa Strand Interview

The Public Good Radio — May 26, 2015

The Public Good Radio interview with Lisa Strand of the Legal Aid Bureau on WUFO AM 1080.

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Megan Rumph Perry Interview

The Public Good Radio — May 12, 2015

The Public Good Radio interview with Megan Rumph Perry of Journey's End Refugee Services on WUFO AM 1080.

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Better Choices for Buffalo's Students: Expanding & Reforming the Criteria Schools System

Gary Orfield, Jennifer Ayscue, Jongyeon Ee, Erica Frankenberg, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Brian Woodward, Natasha Amlani — May 1, 2015

Today, the Buffalo Public Schools, which were national leaders in combining school choice and academic excellence in the l980s, retain only limited and very stratified public school choice. In the l980s, a very high level of diversity and academic excellence was achieved in the city. In the early l990s, the state department of education and national experts recognized the district’s high performance.  The report concludes that the city’s choice system has declined. After the …

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Getting There: Improving Attendance in the Buffalo Public Schools

Rachel Stern — Apr 14, 2015

High rates of absenteeism in the Buffalo Public Schools (“BPS”) are strongly linked to low academic performance and graduation rates.  Several difficult issues contribute to the low attendance in Buffalo, including poverty, segregation, mental and physical health challenges, access to transportation, and problems with school climate and student engagement.  Many effective programs to improve attendance are already in place, but more work needs to be done.  Recent data …

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Poverty, Race, and Community Policing in Buffalo

Mar 27, 2015

The region’s inequality has dramatic effects in every aspect of life, and the criminal justice system is no exception.  As PPG documented in its 2013 report, Alarming Disparities, African-Americans account for 14% of Erie County’s population but 43% of arrests and 65% of prison sentences, and Hispanics represent 4.7% of the population but 7% of arrests and 9% of prison sentences.  For some charges, the disparities are especially striking; for example, African-Americans …

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High Road Economic Development: Best Practices

Feb 25, 2015

High Road Economic Development is an economic development strategy that emphasizes high quality jobs, environmental sustainability, and broad access to opportunities for a diversity of businesses and workers.  High Road Economic Development prioritizes both a healthy economy and a healthy community.  It ensures that public dollars result in both public good and economic growth, and that economic benefits are distributed equitably.  The following list captures many best practices …

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The High Road Economy: Principles and Practices

Feb 25, 2015

The High Road is an economic strategy that emphasizes high quality jobs, environmental sustainability, and broad access to opportunities for diverse businesses and workers.  The High Road prioritizes a healthy economy and a healthy community.  It ensures that public dollars result in both public good and economic growth, and that economic benefits are distributed equitably.  The High Road Economy promotes democratic practices, the Triple Bottom Line (people, planet and profits), …

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Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Western New York

Jan 1, 2015

The Homeless Alliance of Western New York is the designated Continuum of Care (CoC) agency for Erie County.  As such, it is responsible for compiling the annual Continuum of Care grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  In July 2013, the Niagara County CoC merged with the Erie County CoC.  On March 30, 2015, the Erie and Niagara Counties CoC merged with the Orleans County CoC, which acquired Wyoming and Genesee Counties prior to merge.  Therefore, …

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Social Justice and the Arts

J.A. Dewald — Jan 1, 2015

This document is designed to provide a concise, but representative sampling of the many arts programs, projects, networks, and individuals involved in creative, progressive change in their diverse communities.  The purpose of this examination is to provide information to enhance the creative work of the Open Buffalo Arts Network as the initiative moves forward.  Not meant as an exhaustive list of relevant places to study, this report represents a variety of small and large …

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Temp Work and Poverty in Buffalo

Jan 1, 2015

There are many kinds of temp work, but this report focuses on the most common type, in which a worker is employed by a temporary service agency and placed at one or more work sites.  The temp agency typically charges its client business roughly twice the worker’s hourly wages.  Temp agencies create a triangular relationship in which the worker works at the host business but for the temp agency.  In other words, it is the temp agency that typically recruits, screens, hires, …

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Why New York State Still Needs Single Payer Health Care

Sam Magavern, Jacqueline MacKeller — Dec 3, 2014

Conventional wisdom in the United States holds that our health care system, while costly, achieves some of the best outcomes in the world.  A report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), however, conclusively refutes these assumptions.  In a survey of current and historical health data for 17 other high-income democracies, the IOM found that the United States ranked dead last in life expectancy among males and second-to-last among females, despite spending substantially more per person …

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Vacant and Abandoned Housing in Buffalo

Marc Masson — Dec 1, 2014

Buffalo has the oldest housing stock in the nation, with the largest percentage (67%) of homes built before 1940.  In Erie County in 2013 there were 275 cases of elevated lead levels in children.  The City of Buffalo has three of five zip codes in state with worst lead poisoning levels and accounts for roughly 95% of county lead cases.  As of 2008, 13%-22% of children in the City suffered from asthma.  In 2006, the City received 7,460 calls regarding housing violations and …

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Town IDAs in Erie County: 2011-2013

Sam Magavern — Nov 14, 2014

In addition to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), Erie County has five town IDAs: Amherst, Clarence, Concord, Hamburg, and Lancaster.  In this policy brief, we review the performance of the five town IDAs from 2011 to 2013 and find that most of the projects that they have approved have involved restaurants, retail businesses, hotels, speculative office parks, or other projects that are highly unlikely to grow the region’s economy and create a net gain of jobs.

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A True Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

Nov 13, 2014

The most pressing problems in Western New York in sectors such as education, health, and crime can be traced to a single root: poverty.  Families living in poverty suffer from lower graduation rates, more chronic diseases, and more criminal violence than families earning living wages.  In our region, as around the nation, roughly 45% of workers are employed in low-wage service sector jobs.  Those jobs are not going away; in fact, they are the fastest growing occupations in the …

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Talking Proud: Telling Buffalo's Stories

Nov 1, 2014

In 1978, the directors of the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce met in a workshop to create a five year action plan to improve the region’s economic climate – in particular, to increase the number of private sector jobs.  The Chamber decided that their prime strategy would be to upgrade Buffalo’s image, both among its own residents and nationally.  Eventually, they created a “Buffalo Image Campaign,” valued at three to five million dollars, with radio, …

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Raising the Minimum Wage: Key Facts and Figures

Oct 28, 2014

In New York State, roughly 37% or workers earn low wages (less than $15 per hour, or $31,200 per year).  In Erie County, the percentage is 41% (159,800 of 393,600 wage-earning workers).  94% of low wage workers in New York State are age 20 or over.  67% of those earning low wages are working 35 hours per week or more.  51% of those earning low wages have some college education or more.  53% of low-wage workers are female.  53% are white, 18% are black, 21% are …

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Employment Data for Buffalo

Allison Considine — Sep 1, 2014

The types of jobs available in Buffalo have changed post-recession, with midlevel skilled jobs disappearing and high and low skill jobs growing.  The loss of jobs in fields such as teaching, office administration, factory work and construction work during the recession is exacerbated by the fact that many midlevel jobs, such as manufacturing, are being automated or sent to cheaper markets.  Growth has occurred on the high and low skill ends of the spectrum, however, with increases in …

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Public Education in Buffalo and the Region

Marc Masson — Sep 1, 2014

The biggest problem facing Buffalo’s public schools is the fact that many students live in poverty, while at the same time being segregated from students from wealthier communities who tend to enjoy better educational opportunities and rates of academic success.  Buffalo shares many of the problems of large cities in the United States, largely caused by high concentrations of poverty in urban areas.  In 2009, about 59% of students served by urban school districts located in the …

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Language Access

Aug 1, 2014

Failing to provide appropriate language assistance can put your practice at the risk of violating laws related to medical malpractice, informed consent, breach of the legal duty to warn, and breach of the patient’s privacy rights.  In addition, federal civil rights laws require meaningful language access from all recipients of federal dollars.  The level of access required depends on four factors: (1) The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be …

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Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 28, 2014

While Erie County’s unemployment rate and levels of poverty are better than the state and national averages, not everyone is benefitting from our resurgent economy.  In fact, many at the lowest rung of the economic ladder are being left behind, and income inequality is now putting at risk the middle class.  Poverty plays a profound role in the educational challenges in a city where nearly one in two students does not graduate high school on time.  Poverty also contributes …

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On the Edge: The Impact of Changing Demographics on an Inner-Ring Suburban School District

Corrie Stone-Johnson — Mar 28, 2014

On the Edge: The Impact of Changing Demographics on an Inner-Ring Suburban School District PowerPoint presentation.

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On the Edge: The Impact of Changing Demographics on an Inner-Ring Suburban School District

Corrie Stone-Johnson — Mar 1, 2014

Interview with Corrie Stone-Johnson from the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy.

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Prisons of Poverty

Teresa Miller — Mar 1, 2014

The Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop V interview with Teresa A. Miller, Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo.

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Working for 'Extras,' Working for 'Nothing'

Erin Hatton — Mar 1, 2014

The workshop offers everyone concerned with Buffalo's poverty the chance to hear about new and ongoing research, promising strategies, and opportunities for collaboration. 

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Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Erie-Niagara Metropolitan Area

Jan 1, 2014

The Homeless Alliance of Western New York is the designated Continuum of Care (CoC) agency for Erie County.  As such, it is responsible for compiling the annual Continuum of Care grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  In July 2013, the Niagara County CoC merged with the Erie County CoC.  By the end of 2013, most providers were officially entering data into HMIS.  This report covers the time period from 10/1/13 to 9/30/14.

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Serving Limited English Proficient Clients

Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. — Jan 1, 2014

When serving walk-ins, the goal is to provide the same services, information and referrals as we would provide to the English-speaking public.  This is true whether the walk-in ultimately turns out to be eligible for our services or not.  When in doubt, ask yourself what services, information or referrals you would provide to an English speaking person in the same situation.  Then make sure the Limited English Proficient person gets that same service, information or referrals.

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Buffalo School Board Governance

William Miller — Dec 9, 2013

The Board of Education of the Buffalo City School District consists of nine members elected annually by the voters of the school district.  Six members represent sub-districts within the city in three-year terms. Three members serve in an “at-large” capacity for five-year terms.  A School board member must be a citizen of the United States, qualified to vote, able to read and write, eighteen (18) years of age or older, a qualified voter of the District, and the only member …

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English Language Learners and Standardized Tests

Adam Faeth — Dec 9, 2013

A surge in limited English proficiency (LEP) enrollment became a nationwide phenomenon between 1995 and 2005, as virtually all regions of the country experienced a rapid growth in immigrant population.  In Buffalo, the increase in ELL students stemmed largely from the active resettlement of refugees from around the world in Buffalo.  In 2004-2005, Buffalo had 2,539 LEP students who collectively spoke 46 different languages.  In 2009-2010, that enrollment number shot up to 3,481 …

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Erie County as a Metro-Wide School District

Gabriella Agostinelli — Dec 9, 2013

Studies show that the quality of a child’s education is largely dependent on her family’s wealth, race, and residence.  When a child living in deep poverty is educated in a poor school district, she has little exposure to the opportunities and experiences enjoyed by children in wealthier districts.  Metro-wide school districts attempt to equalize educational opportunities for all students, raise regional academic achievement levels, and generate better relations across …

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Should Buffalo Move Back to Neighborhood Public Schools?

Nicholas Fischer — Dec 9, 2013

It is a school where the majority of its students come from the neighborhood surrounding it.  Aside from private or magnet schools, students must attend the school assigned to their neighborhood.  This is no longer the model in Buffalo or in many cities.  For the past forty years schools have bussed students across the district.  Today there is a debate as to whether Buffalo Public Schools should return to the neighborhood school model.

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Teacher Residency Requirements in Buffalo: Reconciling Community Benefits with Marketplace Realities

Lee Bender — Dec 9, 2013

In 2011 Buffalo Public Schools repealed a requirement that its teachers live in the district — a “residency rule”.  Because the city’s urban population accounts for only one quarter of the metro population, this rule severely restricted the teacher applicant pools.  However, the residency requirement had some benefits to the community — such as providing neighborhood role models and making teachers more aware of the students’ life situations and …

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The Downside of Standardized Testing

Nicole Intschert — Dec 9, 2013

Children in the United States are tested “to an extent that is unprecedented in our history and unparalleled anywhere else in the world.” The federal No Child Left behind Act has triggered a standardized testing “explosion,” the repercussions of which have been felt throughout the nation.  Standardized tests are those where “all students answer the same questions under similar conditions and their responses are scored in the same way, and may include …

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Title I Funds in Buffalo Public Schools: Educating Children in Poverty

Amanda Dermady — Dec 9, 2013

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides federal financial assistance to public and private schools with high percentages of children from low-income families with the aim of helping children meet state academic standards.  The Act was originally enacted in April 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and is currently authorized under President George W. Bush’s No Child Left behind Act.  Title I funds are allocated …

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Poverty Matters: The Correlation of Poverty to Test Outcomes in Buffalo, Amherst, and Cheektowaga Schools

Jacob Barnes — Dec 1, 2013

Correlation of Poverty to Test Outcomes in Buffalo, Amherst and Cheektowaga Schools data sets.

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Alarming Disparities: The Disproportionate Number of African American and Hispanic People in Erie County Criminal Justice System

Open Buffalo — Nov 1, 2013

This study on the disproportionate number of African-American and Hispanic people in the Erie County criminal justice system reveals four findings for further analysis.  Representation of the African-American and Hispanic populations is disproportionately high in each stage of the criminal justice process, from arrest through sentencing.  The disparities grow worse at each stage of the process.  Violent felonies and drug felonies yield the greatest racial disparities.  The …

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Casino Gambling will Create More Costs Than Benefits in New York State

Michael Cimasi, Alexis Leonard — Oct 16, 2013

In November 2013, New York State voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to expand casino gambling.  Currently, the state has five casinos run by Indian tribes.  The proposed amendment would allow up to seven non-tribal casinos in areas not including New York City and not including areas, such as Western New York, where the state is bound by an exclusivity agreement with an Indian tribe.  A law expanding casino gambling has passed the state legislature, but, …

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Rebuilding our Neighborhoods: Improving New York State Housing Policy to Better Meet Upstate Needs

Sam Magavern, Aaron Bartley, Anthony Armstrong, Daniel Kelly — Aug 1, 2013

New York faces a wide variety of housing challenges.  While in the New York City region, where the population is growing, availability and affordability are the most pressing concerns, upstate regions have a different set of problems stemming from population loss, housing vacancy, abandonment, and deterioration.  To address the full range of issues, state housing policy needs a variety of tools in its tool box.  This policy brief discusses four ways that state housing policy can …

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The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus: A High Road Strategy to Maximize the Community's Benefit

Open Buffalo — Aug 1, 2013

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (“BNMC”) has become a major hub for private and public investment in Buffalo, an anchor institution that can help improve the quality of life for the whole region.  Strategies to maximize the ways that the community benefits from the BNMC development include: Buying goods and services from locally-owned, independent companies, including minority-owned and worker-owned companies; Focusing economic development incentives and subsidies on the …

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A Public Statement of Principles for High Road Development of Buffalo's Waterfront

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, Canalside Community Alliance — Jul 11, 2013

The Canalside Community Alliance (CSCA) is a broad coalition of 60 community groups including block clubs, community developers, minority-owned contractors, environmental groups, locally-owned businesses, faith groups and many others with diverse skills, experiences, and knowledge, all committed to successful Canalside and waterfront development.  Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) has demonstrated a willingness to listen to public concerns and to involve the greater …

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Gang Prevention in Buffalo, NY and National Best Practices

Gabriella Agostinelli — Apr 25, 2013

While there is no consensus over a specific definition of “gang,” research has identified a group of characteristics to discern whether a group is a “gang.”  According to the Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, these characteristics include: formal organizational structure (not a syndicate), identifiable leadership, identified territory, recurrent interaction, and engaging in serious or violent behavior.

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Poverty in Buffalo-Niagara

Apr 18, 2013

The combination of densely concentrated, racialized poverty with housing vacancy, abandonment, and blight is overwhelming many urban neighborhoods in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.  Anti-poverty policies must address the fact that poverty is both widespread, with roughly half of people in poverty living outside the cities, and yet highly concentrated, with poverty rates in the cities nearly four times as high as those outside the cities.  Urban poverty and abandonment create a vicious …

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Housing Segregation, Inequality, and Poverty in Buffalo-Niagara

Apr 17, 2013

The Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area is slowly losing population and growing more diverse.  From 2000 to 2010, the metro population fell from 1,170,111 to 1,135,509, a loss of 34,602.  During those ten years, the Hispanic population rose 36.7%, multi-racial rose 38.1%, and Asian rose 68.7%, while white population fell 6.4%, black fell 0.2%, and American Indian fell 0.2%.  In 2010, the metropolitan area was 79.5% white, 11.8% black, 4.1% Hispanic, and 2.3% Asian.  As of …

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Buffalo City School District McKinney-Vento Program

John Crabbe — Mar 1, 2013

Shows details related to the McKinney-Vento Program.

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Impact of Poverty

Assunta Ventresca — Mar 1, 2013

Developmental-Begins before birth: quality of mother nutrition and prenatal care; Parent-child interactions; less access to learning-oriented toys; less access to developmentally appropriate activities.  Asthma- Environmental; Access to preventive health care.  Obesity- Lack of opportunities for physical activity; Lack of access to nutritionally dense foods.

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How the Seneca Gaming Corporation has Violated its Contract and Broken its Promises to the City of Buffalo

Michael LoCurto — Jan 31, 2013

The Seneca Gaming Corporation promised the City of Buffalo, in a legally binding contract, that it would construct a tourist destination casino in a park-like setting, market it to out-of-town visitors, and employ large numbers of Buffalonians.  However, the idea of a tourist casino in downtown Buffalo was never realistic.  The SGC has violated nearly every term in its contract, showing blatant disregard for the City, and its current plans reveal the casino for what it was always …

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The Great Recession in Buffalo-Niagara

Ramon Garcia — Jan 17, 2013

At the end of the last decade, the U.S. experienced its most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.  The so-called “Great Recession” shocked the economies of virtually every metropolitan area in the nation.  Officially, the recession began in December of 2007 and ended in June 2009.  But for much of the country, recovery has been very slow; over three years since the expansion began the nation had gained back less than half of the jobs it had lost during …

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2013 Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Erie County

Jan 1, 2013

The Homeless Alliance of Western New York is the designated Continuum of Care (CoC) agency for Erie County.  As such, it is responsible for compiling the annual Continuum of Care grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  In July 2013, the Niagara County CoC merged with our CoC.  By the end of 2013, most providers were officially entering data into HMIS.  We will not present Niagara County data in this report.  This report covers the time period …

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Community Health Workers: A Holistic Solution for Individual and Community Health

Sam Magavern, Jacqueline MacKeller, Jessica Bauer-Walker — Nov 26, 2012

Community Health Workers (CHWs) go by many names, including outreach workers, patient navigators, peer health educators, and lay health advocates.  CHWs help people overcome obstacles by accompanying them through treatment, monitoring needs for food and housing, leading education campaigns and empowering community members to take charge of their own health.  As members of the communities they serve, CHWs establish relationships of trust with those they serve, bridging the gap between …

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Health Data for Buffalo and Erie County

Nov 26, 2012

Health data for Buffalo and Erie County redacted from the Erie County Community Health Assessment from 2010-2013.

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Composting Food and Yard Waste: A Guide for Individuals, Non-Profits, and the City of Buffalo

Rebecca Mize — Oct 11, 2012

In 2010, the United States added 68 million tons of food and yard waste to landfills, accounting for roughly 34% of all municipal solid waste.  Lowering the amount of this waste in a city’s garbage saves the taxpayers money and protects the environment.  Composting is an easy and inexpensive solution.  Instead of throwing out food and yard waste, homeowners, not-for-profits, businesses and local government can reuse it to create compost, a useful product that can be …

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Population Trends in Buffalo-Niagara

Ramon Garcia — Oct 2, 2012

Like a number of places in the nation’s manufacturing belt, the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area has been losing population over the past several decades.  This decline reflects the ongoing population shift from the Northeast and Midwest to warmer places in the South and West, as well as the considerable loss of manufacturing jobs in the region.  In recent decades, some large metros experiencing domestic out-migration have seen their populations bolstered by migrants from …

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How to Recycle Special Items in Buffalo-Niagara

Catholic Care for Creation Committee of Buffalo — Sep 27, 2012

Alphabetized special product listing and where you can recycling it in Buffalo-Niagara.

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Recycling: an Easy Way to Save Money, Create Jobs, and Help the Environment

Aug 10, 2012

The City has to pay to dispose of its garbage, but it gets paid a rebate for its recyclables.  For this reason, the City saves about $150,000 for every 3,500 tons of waste recycled, and every one percent increase in the recycling rate saves the City between $70,000 and $100,000.  That means that every time you recycle something instead of throwing it away, you’re helping to keep taxes and fees lower.

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Buffalo's Assets

Jun 1, 2012

In its Principles for a Revitalized Buffalo, the Partnership for the Public Good calls for a strategy that starts from our assets.  This Buffalo Brief provides just a small sampling of our region’s assets.

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Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Program: Job Training Program for Disadvantaged Workers

Michael Cimasi — May 1, 2012

This pilot program in Buffalo trains entry level workers for successful placement in the building trades and skilled trades’ apprenticeship programs.  As a pre-apprenticeship program, BTPAP does not attempt to replicate the specialized training that is part of an apprenticeship program.  Rather, BTPAP uses a “holistic approach” to basic skills development, including construction related mathematics, job search training, and exposure to various fields of skilled labor …

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Erie County Work Experience Program Partnerships with Non-Profits Offer Work Experience to Temporary Assistance to Needy Family Recipients

Gretchen Sullivan — May 1, 2012

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  It is one of the United States federal assistance programs.  It began on July 1, 1997, and succeeded the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.  It provides cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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Concentrated Poverty and Public Education

Apr 17, 2012

The biggest problem facing Buffalo’s public schools is the fact that most of the students live in poverty and segregation.  Western New York school districts, including Buffalo, are similar to public school districts around the nation, in that they work quite well when their students are affluent or middle income.  When their students are living in concentrated poverty, however, there are innumerable barriers to academic success.  Nationally, the close correlation between …

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Reshaping Buffalo's Recycling Initiatives

Sam Magavern, Lauren Schwarzenholzer — Apr 5, 2012

The city of Buffalo recycles approximately eight percent of its curbside waste per year.  This is far below the national average of 27% and pales by comparison with cities such as San Francisco, which recycles at a rate of 72%.  Within Western New York, there is also great disparity in regard to recycling.  The Town of Tonawanda, to give one example, currently recycles 13.5% of its curbside waste.

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Buffalo's Community Health Centers: Healthcare for People with Low Incomes

Christopher Szczygiel — Apr 1, 2012

Community health centers are non-profit, community-oriented healthcare providers.  Generally, they are a subset of Federally Qualified Health Centers, institutions that receive special funding because they provide medical care to underserved populations.  They offer preventative and primary healthcare, including physical exams, routine testing and screening, immunizations, dental care, pediatrics, women’s health, prenatal care, and nutritional services.  These clinics are …

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Creating Assets, Savings & Hope Buffalo

Rachel Swyers — Apr 1, 2012

Created in 2004, Creating Assets, Saving & Hope (CASH) Buffalo works to increase the financial stability of low-to-moderate income families in Buffalo and Erie County.  CASH’s mission is to increase the financial stability of low-income families by increasing access to tax credits, refunds, and needed income supports; improving financial literacy, and providing opportunities for homeownership, education, or other types of asset building.

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Habitat for Humanity Buffalo

Aikeem Cooper — Apr 1, 2012

Habitat for Humanity Buffalo (HFHB) is a non-profit ecumenical Christian housing organization.  It was founded in 1985 by a group of concerned citizens including Ron Talboys, who had visited the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Americus Georgia.  The Buffalo affiliate of HFHB was the 101st affiliate to be started in the United States.  Over the past 26 years, HFHB has worked in all nine council districts of Buffalo and in nearby Lackawanna.  The goal of HFHB, and all …

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Massachusetts Avenue Project: Urban Farming and Job Skills for Youth

Rebecca Mize — Apr 1, 2012

Massachusetts Avenue Project (“MAP”) seeks to make food systems more local and inclusive.  MAP nurtures the growth of a diverse and equitable community food system to promote local economic opportunities, access to affordable and nutritious food, and social-change education.  MAP grows fresh produce on its urban farm on the West Side of Buffalo.  Annually, MAP employs roughly 50 at-risk youth to transform the community’s food system.  The programs reflect …

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Project Dandelion

Timothy Moriarty — Apr 1, 2012

Project Dandelion, a project of Neighborhood Legal Services, brings together community and legal support for families and individuals receiving public assistance, helping them to attain economic self-sufficiency through legal advocacy, training, peer group support, publications, volunteer opportunities, and legal information.

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Recycling by Businesses Creates Jobs, Saves Energy, Reduces Pollution, and…it’s the law!

Apr 1, 2012

In accordance with state law, the City of Buffalo requires all businesses to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and some metal.  Violations are punishable by a fine between $25 and $250, and/or imprisonment for 15 days or community service.  Many local businesses may not be aware of this law, and they may not be recycling at all, or they may be recycling only some of their recyclable materials.  It’s time to spread the word about recycling, not just because …

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Recycling by Multi-Family Residences Creates Jobs, Saves Energy, Reduces Pollution, and…it's the law!

Apr 1, 2012

Since 1996, in accordance with state law, the City of Buffalo has required all multi-family residences to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal.  Each complex must provide and maintain a recycling collection area, and occupants must then put their recyclables in the appropriate receptacles Violations are punishable by a fine between $25 and $250, and/or imprisonment for 15 days or community service.  Many property owners and managers may not be aware of this law, and …

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The Buffalo Living Wage Ordinance

Joseph Guza — Apr 1, 2012

Buffalo’s Living Wage Ordinance (LWO) provides that certain workers must be paid a living wage.  The goal of the LWO is to make sure that employees working for the City of Buffalo and its contractors earn enough to keep their families out of poverty.  Buffalo’s LWO was passed unanimously in 1995 but was not implemented until 2002.  The LWO was amended in 2002 and 2007.

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The Matt Urban HOPE Center and the Housing First Model

Justine Miller — Apr 1, 2012

Housing First successfully addresses homelessness by giving chronically homeless people permanent housing.  Once in a Housing First program, chronically homeless people get a permanent place to live immediately, despite possible untreated drug, alcohol, or emotional health problems.  Matt Urban Hope Center operates one of the first Housing First programs in the Buffalo region.  Housing First is permanent housing, while shelters are only temporary, meaning people are only allowed …

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Geographies of Poverty: Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Area

Christopher Szczygiel — Mar 16, 2012

The local economy is often discussed in terms of the Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), a multi-county area with a population of over one million.  While it is useful to take a regional perspective, it is also useful to consider individual cities, towns or villages.  The economic picture in the city of Buffalo (population 266,012) is so quite different than that of the town of Holland (population 3,430).  The poverty rates in the cities of Buffalo (29.6%) and …

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The Geography of Poverty: City of Buffalo

Robert Grimaldi — Mar 16, 2012

Between 2000 and 2010, several census tracts on the East and West Sides fell deeper into poverty.  Broadway-Fillmore’s poverty rate rose from 45.9% to 51.9%, the Niagara Street neighborhood immediately west of Downtown rose from 45.6% to 62.5%, and two tracts in Black Rock rose from 39.2% and 36.3% to 46.0%.  Also, several North Buffalo neighborhoods experienced significant drops in poverty rates, including Parkside falling from 28.2% to 15.8%, Central Park falling from 16.0% to …

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Buffalo's Sprawl: Fiscal, Environmental, and Social Costs

Feb 16, 2012

Rolf Pendall has aptly summarized Buffalo’s development pattern as “sprawl without growth.”  Between 1950 and 2000, the region gained only 80,881 people, but the urbanized area nearly tripled, going from 123 square miles to 367 square miles.  The city of Buffalo’s population declined from 580,132 to 292,648 (a loss of 287,484), while the rest of Erie County grew from 319,106 to 657,617 (a gain of 338,511).  From 2000 to 2010, the trend continued, with the …

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State Funding for the NFTA Reduces Pollution, Fights Poverty, and Promotes Economic Development

Feb 7, 2012

New York State should support public transit in Buffalo-Niagara by increasing Transit Operating Assistance and increasing the NFTA’s allocation of low-cost electric power.  There is no more effective tool for reducing pollution, cutting poverty, and promoting economic development than affordable and comprehensive mass transit.  In recent years, New York State has been cutting its funding to the NFTA, even as the NFTA’s costs have been rising.  State funding has been …

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2012 Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Erie County

Jan 1, 2012

The Homeless Alliance of Western New York is the designated Continuum of Care (CoC) agency for Erie County that is responsible for compiling the annual Continuum of Care grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  In 2011 this grant awarded $11.2 million in funding for new and renewal projects to homeless agencies throughout Erie County.

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HUD Report on Buffalo Community Development Block Grant Program

Edgar Moore — Dec 13, 2011

Audit report from Edgar Moore to William O'Connell.

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Best Practices in Mental Health at Corrections Facilities

Sahil Jain — Nov 1, 2011

Police, court personnel, and correctional staff interact with, stabilize, and treat more persons with mental illness than any other system in America—making criminal justice agencies the largest mental health provider in the United States.  Yet a wide gap exists between the training of corrections staff and the enormous responsibility they have for day-to-day management of mental health issues.  To narrow this gap in jail and prison settings, the best practices include training …

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Benefit Corporation Legislation in New York: What's the Benefit

Amanda Dermady — Oct 30, 2011

Formerly in New York State, businesses could operate as one of six different types: a business corporation, not-for-profit corporation, limited liability company, general partnership, limited partnership, or sole proprietorship.  If Governor Cuomo signs the bill, businesses will be given a seventh option – the benefit corporation.  A business corporation can incorporate under New York State law by filing a Certificate of Incorporation under Section 402 of the Business …

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Buffalo's Community Bicycle Workshop

Marshall Bertram — Oct 30, 2011

The “CBW” is a cooperative learning workshop that provides a facility, tools, and education to those interested in bicycles.  The workshop provides affordable bicycles and a free place to learn and thus increases bicycle awareness.  The CBW is a program of Green Options Buffalo, which promotes biking, walking, public transit, and other healthy and sustainable transportation options.  The CBW refurbishes and sells roughly 109 bicycles per year for an average of $85 a …

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Front Park's Past and Future

Lawrence Bice — Oct 30, 2011

Front Park is a 26-acre urban park in Buffalo, New York.  The park entrance is located on Porter Avenue.  The park is bounded on the west by interstate 190, on the north by the Peace Bridge truck plaza and on the north by Busti Avenue and the adjacent Columbus Park-Prospect Hill neighborhood.  Front Park is part of Buffalo’s Olmsted park system.  The park system takes its name from its most prominent original designer, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., a nationally renowned …

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Monitoring Pollution in our Communities: The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York

Kathleen Gabel — Oct 30, 2011

The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York (CACWNY) is a community health and advocacy group working to ensure local residents’ right to a healthy environment.  The group organizes media campaigns, provides resources, and designs programs to help reduce pollution in local communities.

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PUSH Buffalo's Net Zero House at 10 Winter St.

Kyle Taylor — Oct 30, 2011

PUSH Buffalo acquired the property at 10 Winter Street for $2200 at the City tax foreclosure auction, free and clear of all liens.  The house is a single family home that is approximately 1198 sq. ft., with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a partial basement and a crawl space.  The house was originally built in 1920.  The farm house style is unusual in this neighborhood.  Previous owners never altered the original floor plan and had not made any significant investment in the …

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Reducing Disposable Bag Use

Rick Ahrens — Oct 30, 2011

Plastic shopping bags were introduced to the consumer market about 25 years ago.  Since then, they’ve become-literally-a ubiquitous part of the American landscape.  Every year, between 500 billion and one trillion disposable plastic shopping bags are consumed worldwide.  In the United States, 100 billion plastic bags are used each year, costing retailers $4 billion, which is passed on to the consumer in the price of goods.

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Vacant Lot Greening Options in Buffalo

Robert Grimaldi — Oct 30, 2011

The main goals of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) and its development subsidiary, the Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Corporation (BNSC), are to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing, to expand local hiring opportunities, and to advance economic justice in Buffalo.

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Generating Waste: Problems with NYPA and the IDAs and How to Solve Them

Oct 1, 2011

New York State is spending billions of dollars on economic development programs without reaping significant public benefits.  Too often the State is subsidizing sprawl, pollution, and poverty level employment.  An examination of the State’s two largest economic development programs, the industrial development agencies and the New York Power Authority, reveals numerous problems – but also ready solutions that will save the taxpayers money and lead to real, sustainable …

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Reforming Buffalo's Tax Foreclosure Process

Jonathan Baird — Sep 30, 2011

The City of Buffalo holds an annual foreclosure auction to collect on delinquent taxes and fees owed by its residents.  This is a way for the City to raise revenue that would otherwise go unpaid and for Buffalo citizens to buy buildings and lots at bargain prices.  But the foreclosure process is imposing a high cost upon some of Buffalo’s most vulnerable citizens, creating an unnecessary burden on people trying to stay in their homes, and adding to the already existing epidemic …

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Buffalo, Amherst, and Erie County: Worlds Apart

Aug 31, 2011

Examines demographic, population, and economic markers between Buffalo, Amherst, and Erie County.

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Education Data for Buffalo

Aug 18, 2011

Fact Sheet Outlining Education Data for Buffalo.  Includes: Educational attainment of those over 25, four year graduation rate, and percent's of adults with Bachelor's degrees.

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Refugees, Food Insecurity, and Community Gardens

Dorian Rolston — Aug 10, 2011

Nearly nine in ten resettled refugee households endure food insecurity, meaning that they are without “access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”  Because western New York resettles hundreds of refugees per year, many of them on Buffalo’s west side, we have a unique opportunity to combat refugee food insecurity.

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Greening Buffalo's Vacant Lots

Christopher Szczygiel — Jul 5, 2011

Greening vacant lots is one of the most cost effective ways for Buffalo to improve its neighborhoods.  At a bare minimum, Buffalo can combat blight, raise property values, raise property tax revenue, lower crime rates and improve residents’ quality of life with a simple program to clean up, green up, and maintain vacant lots.  Vacant lots are also prime locations for parks, playgrounds, bike trails, walking paths, community gardens and urban farms.  Greening lots can …

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The Triple Bottom Line in Buffalo: Standards for Economic, Social, and Ecological Success

Jeffrey Baker — Jun 27, 2011

In respect to human capital, or people, the triple bottom line requires fair and beneficial business practices towards employees, the community, and the region.  Such practices include offering fair salaries, safe working conditions, decent hours, healthcare, and educational opportunity.  In terms of the environment, or the planet, the triple bottom line requires businesses to engage in sustainable environmental practices. Businesses aim to reduce their carbon footprint by carefully …

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A Green Building Ordinance for Buffalo

Donna Budniewski — May 27, 2011

All new building projects in the City of Buffalo totaling 5,000 square feet or more that are city-owned, city-financed or city/state subsidized should be LEED-Silver certified.  The City of Buffalo should mitigate its contribution to global warming and reduce reliance on energy and natural resources while improving the quality of life or its residents, employees, and visitors.  Multiple federal/state funding incentives and significant tax credits exist for going green.  Green …

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Looking for Trickledown Under the Peace Bridge: A Critique of the Public Bridge Authority's Economic Impact Claims

Apr 19, 2011

The Public Bridge Authority’s economic impact analysis, presented in its environmental impact statement for the Peace Bridge Expansion Project, offers a grossly exaggerated impression of the project’s benefits.  The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority has proposed a significant expansion to the operations of the international crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie known as the Peace Bridge.  The plans presented to the public in 2007 would radically alter a five …

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Municipal Water Management, Private Contracting, and Public Response: A Case Study of Water Privatization in Buffalo, New York

Beth Herz — Apr 1, 2011

Herz analyzes Buffalo residents' responses to the city's private water management contract between 1996 and 2008 through several frames. She concludes that the concerns and arguments used in Buffalo aligned explicitly with a homeowners’/renters’ rights frame and implicitly with elements of both the right-to-water and the environmental justice movements’ frames.

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Cooling Global Warming Through Transit

Lynn King — Mar 17, 2011

For generations, cars have been cool because they are perceived to correlate to independence and wealth.  People’s attachment to their cars is one of the most cited examples of why government doesn’t want to invest in mass transit.  Accompanying this ideology is an underlying fear and distaste for buses.  Recently, Cleveland purposely avoided such a stigma in naming its new bus line “The Health Line” and referring to it always as rapid transit.  Yet, …

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How City Hall Can Foster the Urban Farming Revolution in Buffalo

Michael Raleigh — Mar 17, 2011

The City of Buffalo has made strides in recent years to make urban farming an accepted use of vacant land.  However, the fact remains that the City is unwilling to “take risks” in this area.  There are a number of policies that restrict the freedom of farmers to get access to land, gain long term land security, grow a diversity of foods (including animals), and sell the food.  In order for farming to really take hold and have a transformative effect on the local food …

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Policies to Encourage Biking and Walking in Buffalo

Paul Fusco-Gessick — Mar 17, 2011

Despite having a climate that can make Siberia look attractive at time, Buffalo has a surprisingly large number of citizens who ride a bicycle or walk to work.  But the City and Erie County have not done much to meet this high demand.  Though there are a few streets within the City that do have marked bike lanes the vast majority do not.  A similar problem exists in the suburbs; suburban roads frequently lack sidewalks, let alone bike lanes, though bicyclists can (and do) ride on …

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What Climate Change Means for Buffalo

Sam Magavern — Mar 17, 2011

Why should state and local governments respond to a problem with so many national and international ramifications? As we have seen, Buffalo and New York have much to lose from climate change, and much to gain from preventing it.  Moreover, it is clearer than ever that states and localities will have to lead the way.  In the past two years, the Democrats have failed to pass meaningful climate change legislation despite controlling the Presidency, Senate, and House.  The chances …

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Responding to New York's Budget Crisis

Sam Magavern — Feb 10, 2011

Wealthy individuals and big businesses have benefited dramatically from reduced taxes and increased subsidies, and they should make a fair contribution to resolving New York’s budget crisis.  Taxes on the very wealthy and reduction of corporate welfare will do much more to reinvigorate the economy and restore fiscal health than drastic cuts in health and education spending.

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Poverty and Casino Gambling in Buffalo

Sam Magavern, Elaina Mule — Jan 19, 2011

The Buffalo Creek Casino will exacerbate Buffalo’s poverty.  Casinos, especially urban casinos, attract many gamblers living at or near the poverty line, and problem or pathological gamblers often fall from the middle class into poverty.  Proximity to casinos is a major factor in problem gambling.  The Buffalo Creek Casino is located in a high-poverty zone.  Population’s already facing high poverty rates and inequalities, such as African Americans, have higher …

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2010 Buffalo and Erie County Annual Report on Homelessness: A Community Profile

Kristin Cipollone — Jan 1, 2011

This report was prepared by Kristin Cipollone with data supplied by the Homeless Alliance of WNY.  HAWNY and its subsidiaries were responsible for all data collection.  For the purpose of this annual report, all data has been reported based on the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) year, which is October 1 to September 31.  AHAR is HUD mandated report given to congress every year to report on the status of homelessness.  Kristin Cipollone was tasked with writing up …

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2011 Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Erie County

Jan 1, 2011

Housing in which homeless persons can access shelter immediately and reside for up to 30 days.  The primary function is to provide immediate housing and assist individuals in identifying causes of homelessness, accessing services and securing the next appropriate level of housing.

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Buffalo Public Schools Reconstruction

Louise Calixte — Dec 8, 2010

The Buffalo Public Schools Reconstruction is an ambitious 10-year reconstruction and renovation program.  The project is designed to provide state-of- the-art learning environments, upgrade the public school infrastructure, and strengthen surrounding residential and commercial neighborhoods.

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Green Municipal Building Ordinances

Donna Budniewski — Oct 27, 2010

In 2006 the town of Babylon, NY adopted a local law that requires LEED certification for “new construction of commercial buildings, office buildings, industrial buildings, multiple residence, or senior citizen multiple residence over 4,000 square feet”.  As an incentive, the town will refund certification fees paid by developers if a new project achieves LEED status.

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Increasing Use of Public Transit

Lynn King — Oct 27, 2010

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) provides bus and rail service to Erie and Niagara Counties.  In Erie County, this metro service is delivered via 38 interwoven bus routes and one light rail line.  Service extends out to many of Buffalo’s outer-ring suburbs but is concentrated within City limits and runs most frequently during peak hours.  The NFTA also provides special transit service to disabled riders, riders attending special events, and metro pass …

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Urban Farming in Buffalo: Economic Development and Climate Change Strategy

Michael Raleigh — Oct 27, 2010

Our food system is heavily industrialized, which means it consumes an incredible amount of resources, including energy derived from burning fossil fuels.  By one estimate, the food system takes 10 calories of energy to produce one calorie of food.  The phrase “eating oil” refers to our use of oil to power the machines that plant seeds, spray pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, spread fertilizer, operate irrigation pumps, till the soil, harvest and process crops, and …

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Environmental Data for Buffalo

Sep 7, 2010

Environmental fact sheet outlining environmental data in Buffalo.  This includes: land use; vehicles; global warming; sprawl; water quality; parks, trees, lots; air quality; energy; garbage and recycling. 

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Healthy Eating and Active Living: For Children in the City of Buffalo

Kailee Neuner — Jul 1, 2010

Children and youth are the future of our community and the nation. Children and youth living in Buffalo face a number of challenges that threaten their well-being and quality of life. A key among these challenges is children’s limited access to environments that facilitate healthy eating and active living behavior. Healthy Kids Healthy Communities-Buffalo (HKHC-Buffalo)2, a collaborative effort to promote healthy eating and active living among Buffalo’s children, is pleased to …

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The Buffalo Urban Development Corporation

Heather Anderson — Jun 9, 2010

The non-profit corporation is run by a Board of Directors, which consists of the members of the Corporation.  The By-laws of the BUDC set forth how the members/directors are to be selected. Although the Officers may have salaries, at this time, none of the Officers are compensated for their services.  The By-laws provide that there are to be eighteen members/directors of the corporation, and that the members/directors are to be elected or appointed.

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Unemployment and Poverty in Western New York

Owen Field — Apr 29, 2010

It is a common understanding that a high unemployment rate means that more people are out of work and therefore more people have fallen into poverty.  But the relationship between unemployment and poverty is complex, and the two may not always relate very directly.  It is necessary to examine states, counties, and even cities separately to determine the extent of this relationship and the possibilities of other influential factors.

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Who is Living in Poverty and Why?

Sam Magavern — Apr 29, 2010

In thinking about poverty, it is common to focus on those places and populations where the poverty rate is the highest, where poverty is the most concentrated and visible.  Thus, many associate poverty with inner city residents, people of color, high school drop-outs, never-married mothers, and people without jobs – all of whom suffer from disproportionately high rates of poverty.  There are both good and bad reasons to focus attention on these groups, but it is important to …

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Drug Testing by Potential Employers

Neil Diegelman — Apr 28, 2010

New York State should pass laws that regulate pre-employment drug testing in order to maximize fairness, accuracy, and efficiency while recognizing employers’ needs to maintain a drug-free workplace.  Drug testing, when done properly, is quite accurate and has standardized procedures to ensure fairness.  A pre-employment drug test can be an effective way for an employer to check on factors influencing whether an applicant will be productive or continuously tardy or have attitude …

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Local and Minority Hiring Practices

Kasia McDonald — Apr 28, 2010

This brief discusses various strategies to ensure a diverse and local workforce at the Canal Side project on Buffalo’s waterfront.  To make the project as advantageous to the community as possible requires the use of exact language in contracts governing the development, active participation of local neighborhoods, a monitoring system to track efforts made by developers and jobseekers and then distribute the results to the community, and civic oversight to hold the businesses …

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Transportation and Low Wage Work

Michael Raleigh — Apr 28, 2010

Living on a low wage can be extremely difficult, yet the number of low wage jobs in metro Buffalo grew by 17% from 2004 to 2008.  This means that many more people are struggling to figure out how to survive with less money.  It also means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for many people to afford transportation.  As the location of employment has dispersed throughout the region, transportation has become a basic need similar to food, clothing, and shelter.  A …

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Children First! Child Care Assistance in Erie County

Alexa Rissoff — Apr 27, 2010

Child care subsidies are distributed in each county in New York by the county’s Department of Social Services.  Due to a drop in state funding, Erie County has changed its eligibility level from 200% to 125% of the poverty line.  The former level for eligibility should be reinstated because subsidized child care has social, financial and societal benefits.

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Strengthening Unemployment Insurance

Robert Mietlicki — Apr 27, 2010

A person’s eligibility for unemployment insurance in New York State is determined by the New York State Unemployment Insurance Law.  A person may be eligible for benefits if he lost his job due to a lack of work, such as the end of seasonal or temporary employment or the downsizing of a company.  A person may also be eligible if he was fired because he did not meet an employer’s qualifications for a job.  A worker may be denied unemployment benefits if he was fired …

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The Problem of Worker Misclassification

Ryan Parisi — Apr 27, 2010

Employee misclassification is a significant problem that continues to plague the labor market. Unscrupulous and unknowing employers alike are costing individual workers and society tremendously. Not only are workers missing out on legal protections, but society is losing contributions from employers that should be paid into different employment systems (payroll taxes, unemployment benefits, workers compensation benefits, etc.).

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Criminal Convictions and Employment Rights in New York State

Robert Strassel — Apr 26, 2010

New York has a strong policy toward preventing discrimination based on prior criminal convictions and its progressive policy outlook should encouraged.  In 2007 a report concluded that New York employees were largely unfamiliar with State laws regulating an employer’s use of prior criminal convictions for employment-related decisions, and in response, the legislature amended Section 296 of New York Executive Law to require employers to post and disseminate information regarding a job …

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Education Levels and Low-Wage Work

Dannine Consoli — Apr 26, 2010

Is education the key to getting low-wage workers out of poverty and into higher paying, middle class jobs? In the United States, roughly one in three jobs pays a low wage.  The Center for Economic and Policy Research defines “low wage” as less than 66 percent of the median wage for male workers (the median weekly pay rate for men in the fourth quarter of 2009 was $825).  Employees with higher levels of education do have a significantly lower probability of working a …

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How to Improve Erie County's Work First Program

Rachel Jones — Apr 26, 2010

The major shift to a welfare to work model happened in 1996 with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.  This federal law aimed to decrease dependency on public assistance by – among other things – forcing people to work for their assistance.  Erie County did not need this Act to focus on work. Erie County Department of Social Services has been enforcing work requirements and operating as a work first county since 1988.  In 1994, the County created its …

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Overtime Violations

Lisa Diaz-Ordaz — Apr 26, 2010

Overtime violations are especially prevalent in low wage jobs.  Some of the industries with notably high instances of violations include the restaurant and hotel industries, retail, drug and grocery stores, private households and home health care.  Within these industries, occupations with the most overtime violations include childcare workers, home health care workers, waiters and bartenders, cooks and food preparers, retail salespeople, cashiers and stock clerks.  A quick …

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TANF and Higher Education

Leah Hardy — Apr 26, 2010

Welfare reforms in 1996 created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant program (TANF).  Under the assumption that a job will provide recipients with a path to self-sufficiency, this program focuses primarily on putting them to work.  Unfortunately, this work-first focus has not resulted in a path out of poverty for the majority of recipients.  New York State must reform its TANF program to provide relevant education and training for its recipients, equipping them …

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Paid Sick Leave: Should Investing in the Workforce be Mandatory?

Stuart Frame — Apr 22, 2010

Paid sick leave is a benefit supplied to employees: it means that they are allotted a certain amount of days every year when they can call in sick and the employer still pays them for a full day of work. Roughly 86% of U.S. workers currently receive at least some paid sick leave as a benefit from their employers.  While workers at larger businesses have more paid leave than workers at smaller firms, in every sector of the economy the vast majority of workers get paid sick leave.  Most …

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Unionization of Low Wage Workers

Brian Hartmann — Apr 22, 2010

The unionization of workers, particularly those engaged in occupations which pay low wages, has often been criticized by business leaders as stifling economic development.  This brief explores unionization of low wage work in both national and local terms and discusses its effects on economic development and on the lives of workers.  It asserts that in spite of the recent decline in union participation, the organizing of low wage labor significantly increases workers’ quality of …

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An Educational Gift: Teacher Aides in New York State

Alexa Rissoff — Apr 20, 2010

Teacher Aides, also referred to as teacher assistants, instructional aides, paraprofessionals or paraeducators, generally provide non-instructional and clerical support for classroom teachers.  While this fact sheet focuses on teacher aides, it is important to briefly note the major differences between teacher aides and teaching assistants in New York.

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Dishwashers: Workers in a Low-Wage Occupation

Robert Strassel — Apr 20, 2010

There are no educational or licensing requirements to become a dishwasher.  Typically, dishwashers are trained on the job by experienced co-workers.  Some employers require employees to complete educational materials addressing issues including safety guidelines, equipment maintenance, and cleansing procedures.

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Food Environment, Built Environment, and Women's BMI: Evidence from Erie County, New York

Samina Raja, Changxing Ma, Pavan Yadav, Li Yin, James Roemmich, Leonard Epstein, Alex Ticoalu — Apr 20, 2010

The authors present the results of a neighborhood-scaled exploratory study that tests the association of the food environment and the built environment with women’s body mass index (BMI) in Erie County, New York.  The proximity of women’s homes to a supermarket relative to a convenience store is associated with lower BMI.  A diverse land use mix in a neighborhood is positively associated with women’s BMI, especially when restaurants dominate nonresidential land …

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Landscapers and Grounds Keepers

Ryan Parisi — Apr 20, 2010

The tasks of a landscaper or groundskeeper in the Buffalo region vary by the time of year and even the day.  The jobs include mowing lawns, “edging” driveways and sidewalks, trimming bushes, trees and other vegetation, planting vegetation, removing old or dead vegetation, fall and spring “clean ups” which involve cleaning a property and preparing it for the next season, watering vegetation, maintaining overall appearance of property, mulching, weeding, and pruning …

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The Job of a UB Janitor

Michael Raleigh — Apr 20, 2010

It varies.  You can do carpet shampoo, floor work, taking care of trash, recycling, clean up spills of blood or chemicals, snow removal.  It depends on the building.  I work in some of the medical buildings where there are different labs and experiments.  Other people who work in residence halls do not deal with these different conditions.  Yeah, you bet it can be dangerous.  Some of the areas where people work have nuclear materials.  There is a nuclear …

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Working as an EMT

Robert Mietlicki — Apr 20, 2010

The work of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) is often the difference between life and death for a patient.  EMTs respond to various medical emergencies including car accidents, heart attacks, slips and falls of the elderly, childbirth, and gunshot wounds.  In responding to emergencies, EMTs assess a patient’s condition, determine pre-existing medical conditions, and provide emergency care while transporting patients to an emergency room.  EMTs often work with police …

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Exploring Low Wage Work in the Farming Industry

Stuart Frame — Apr 19, 2010

Farm work encompasses a variety of different jobs.  When I worked for a farmer and farm market owner in Rochester, my tasks ranged from picking corn and berries to sell in the market, hoeing weeds in the pumpkin patch, and irrigating and helping plow the fields and maintaining the orchards.  I very much enjoyed, as did my interview contact, certain aspects of farm work.  It is very fulfilling to spend the day working outside with one’s hands.  The variety of tasks that …

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Food Service Workers in Buffalo Public Schools

Rachel Jones — Apr 19, 2010

Generally, employees are expected to assist the cook in the preparation and serving of the food. These workers are also required to clean all areas, as well as dishes and cooking utensils.  They must maintain clean spaces in the kitchen and in the rest rooms.  The food service worker could also be required to serve as a cashier or checker.  There are other possible employment conditions.

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Food Service Workers in Restaurants: Short Order Cooks, First-Line Supervisors, and Managers

Lisa Diaz-Ordaz — Apr 19, 2010

Short order cooks are restaurant workers who prepare food as it is ordered by customers.  First-line supervisors also have to prepare food, but at the same time they must supervise the other workers who are cooking and preparing food.  In contrast, food service managers are responsible for the daily operations of a restaurant including all administrative and human resource functions of the restaurant.  In Erie County in 2008, the average weekly wage for a cook at a limited …

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Home Health Aides

Chenoa Maye — Apr 19, 2010

Home health aides typically work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive government funding and therefore must comply with extensive regulations.  This means that home health aides must work under the direct supervision of a medical professional, usually a nurse.  The aides keep records of services performed and of clients' condition and progress.  They report changes in the client's condition to the supervisor or case manager.  Aides also work with …

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Retail Sales: Selling to make a Living

Neil Diegelman — Apr 19, 2010

Interview with retail salesperson conducted March 16, 2010.  James Silver is a 28-year old white male working at Sears.  His work week consists of between 35 and 40 hours, and he has been employed with Sears for over five years.  James has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo.

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Sanitation Workers in the City of Buffalo

Dannine Consoli — Apr 19, 2010

Sanitation workers, also referred to as refuse collectors, collect trash from homes and businesses.  They either lift the garbage cans themselves or use a hydraulic lift for dumpsters.  The work is physically demanding and repetitive.  Sometimes they have to lift large heavy objects, such as furniture or large kitchen appliances.  They normally work an 8 hour shift that often begins between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. They usually work regardless of the weather.

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School Bus Monitors in Western New York

Brian Hartmann — Apr 19, 2010

The New York State Department of Education defines a “bus monitor” (also commonly referred to as a “bus aide”) as any person employed for the purpose of assisting children to safely embark and disembark from a school bus which is owned, leased or contracted for by a public school district or board of cooperative educational services, and for the purpose of assisting the school bus driver with maintaining proper student behavior on such school bus.

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Working as a Security Guard in Western New York

Owen Field — Apr 19, 2010

Being a security guard is something to be proud of.  A security guard protects people, and the job can be challenging and even dangerous.  Guards have to be licensed, and there are certain safety measures and skills that they have to learn.  Security guards can save lives, stop terrorism, and make entire neighborhoods feel more comfortable.  Under the right circumstances, security can make a good career. There can be opportunities for increased rankings and advancements, and …

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Canal Side: How Will the Community Benefit?

Apr 1, 2010

For the last two years, PPG partners have voted to make a community benefit agreement (CBA) for the $300 million Canal Side development a plank in the PPG Community Agenda.  A CBA would include binding guarantees about quality jobs, green design, local businesses, local and minority hiring, and mixed income housing.  Each year, PPG leads its partners and other citizens in crafting a Community Agenda: ten policy actions that government can take in the course of the year to revitalize …

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Working as a Receptionist

Kasia McDonald — Mar 25, 2010

According to the New York Department of Labor, the job prospects for receptionists from 2006-2016 are very favorable.  Currently, the median wage for receptionists in western New York is $24,500, with, on an annual basis, 170 new openings and a projected 6% annual job growth.  In 2006, there were 5,670 employed as a receptionist in this region; in 2016, there are expected to be 6,010.  Nationally, receptionist held 1.1 million jobs in 2008, with the largest numbers working in …

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Playing an Insecure Hand

Feb 1, 2010

For a growing number of families and workers in Western New York, low-wage work is the only—or the last—employment option.  In 2009, one out of four jobs in the region were in occupations where the median annual wage fell below the poverty line for a family of four.  This rising reliance on low-wage work is a discouraging change from the post-war economic boom when incomes and standards of living soared—a period that continues to shape our employment and lifestyle …

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Comparing the Economic Competitive Advantages of Indian Run Casinos Located on Sovereign Lands in Western New York Over Other Hospitality Operations

Steve Siegel — Jan 1, 2010

The Seneca Gaming Corporation has constantly attempted to convince the citizens of WNY that their casinos will provide long-term economic benefits to the area.  The local “mainstream” media has, with few exceptions, repeatedly quoted the statistics that the SGC’s public relations people have provided them.  The mainstream media has rarely if ever done an independent analysis of the numbers or sought answers to some of the more disturbing statistics.

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Pathways to Progress

WNY Women's Fund — Jan 1, 2010

Pathways to Progress is a groundbreaking study and the first step in making a meaningful measurable difference in the lives of women and girls in Western New York.  Sustained improvement in these lives will dramatically benefit our entire community.  This initiative has been an 18-month journey that has been supported and guided by hundreds of strong, intelligent, committed partners.  We welcome the wider community’s active interest and participation.  In Western New …

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Buffalo's In Rem Foreclosure Auction

Kathleen Feroleto — Dec 3, 2009

The increase in tax foreclosure and property abandonment over the past five years has created an abundance of vacant properties in the City of Buffalo.  In fact, Buffalo has the third highest vacancy problem in the nation, with between 12,000 to 18,000 vacant buildings.  Buffalo trails only Detroit and New Orleans among the 100 largest cities.  Although the subprime mortgage crisis did not hit Buffalo as hard as many other cities, tax foreclosures have risen over the past five …

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Registration and the Re-Empowerment of the Buffalo Housing Court

Joseph Petti — Dec 3, 2009

There's not a single panacea that will cure Buffalo's myriad housing woes.  A 2008 Buffalo News study found that Buffalo had the third highest rate of vacant housing among the 100 largest cities in the country.  One estimate puts the number of vacant houses at over 10,000.  There is no doubt, however, that one extremely important tool in combating the blight and decay that come along with scads of vacant houses is the Buffalo Housing Court.  Problem properties that are in …

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The Black Rock Vacancy Initiative: An Analysis of Results and Obstacles

David Panepinto — Nov 23, 2009

This study focuses on the seventy-seven properties that were targeted by the Black Rock Vacancy Initiative.  First, forty-nine (49) of those properties were successfully resolved through the Initiative, including properties that were either resolved through Housing Court or by the City.  Second, fourteen (14) properties were not resolved through the Initiative at all.  This group includes active Housing Court cases, properties that Housing Court has lost jurisdiction over, and …

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A User's Guide to Bringing a Private Nuisance Action

Ryan Parisi — Nov 20, 2009

The first element of private nuisance is an “interference substantial in nature.”  This leads to the question: what is substantial? Whether interference is substantial depends largely on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.  The determination of substantiality is generally a question of fact for a jury as opposed to a question of law for the judge to decide.  Substantiality, involves a review of the totality of the circumstances based on a balancing of …

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Are YOU Registered? An Analysis of Buffalo's Rental Registry Code

Alexa Rissoff — Nov 19, 2009

Buffalo’s Dwelling Unit Registration code was passed in 2004 and became effective in 2005.  The City of Buffalo had previously enacted a Multiple Dwelling Unit Registration law, which required owners of multiple dwelling units (three or more units) to register their property and obtain a certificate of occupancy, but the City did not have any required registration for single and double residential dwellings.  The purpose of the Rental Registry code is to create a database that …

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Collection of Housing Judgments: Buffalo's Practice Compared to Other Municipalities

Heather DiStefano — Nov 1, 2009

Each year the City of Buffalo files thousands of dollars in housing violation fines as judgments at the Erie County Clerk’s Office.  Unfortunately, much of this money goes uncollected, in part due to the limited steps the City takes to collect outstanding fines.  The problem the City faces in pursuing collections is a lack of resources and judgment proof defendants.

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City of Buffalo 2009-2010 Action Plan

Sam Magavern — Jul 16, 2009

I am writing on behalf of the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) to comment on the City of Buffalo’s 09-10 Action Plan.  PPG’s mission is to help build a more just, sustainable, and culturally vibrant community through action-oriented research, policy development, and citizen engagement.  Our 2009 Community Agenda has been endorsed by over 50 organizations, including Belmont Shelter, Buffalo Urban League, Catholic Charities, Community Action, Habitat for Humanity …

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Empire State's Cultural Capital at Risk?

Cornell University ILR School — Jun 1, 2009

New York State is a world center for the arts and entertainment industry and its vast and uniquely diversified workforce is its main competitive advantage.  Commissioned by the New York Empire State Development Corporation, this report examines the strengths and the challenges facing this industry and its workforce in the state, providing an assessment of the education and training infrastructure that supports this vital industry, and identifying issues that offer a potential role for …

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Erie County Sales Tax

Victoria Volk — May 4, 2009

The Erie County sales tax rate is 8.75%.  It is a general sales and compensating use tax which is levied on all taxable retail sales in Erie County.  Of the total 8.75% tax collected by the State of New York, 4% is retained as State revenue and 4.75% is returned to the County.  The county tax base rate is 3%.  However, Erie County has received authorization to add an additional 1% in 1985, and then an additional 0.75% in 2005-2006.

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Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Board

Victoria Volk — May 3, 2009

The Board consists of 15 members.  The B&ECPL board is a volunteer position.  There are however, some requirements an applicant must meet.  Eight of the board members must be residents of the city of Buffalo.  The Board members serve in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 768 of the Laws of the 1953 State of New York, known as “An Act authorizing the consolidation of city and public libraries.” The board members are also governed by Article 16 …

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Buffalo City Comptroller

Robert Sparks — May 3, 2009

Under the Buffalo Charter and Code, the Comptroller is the head of the Department of Audit and Control.  The Department of Audit and Control is broken down into three divisions: Division of Audit, Division of Accounting, and Division of Investment and Debt Management.  The Division of Audit is headed by the City Auditor; the Division of Accounting is headed by the City Accountant, and the Division of Investment and Debt Management is headed by the Investment and Debt Management …

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Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority

Scott Mancuso — May 3, 2009

The BFSA is a “corporate governmental agency” and an “instrumentality” of the State of New York. It is run by nine directors.  Only one of these directors need be a citizen of the City of Buffalo.  The governor designates two of the nine directors as “chairperson” and “vice-chairperson,” who preside over all meetings of the directors.

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Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority

Marnie Smith — May 3, 2009

To assist our residents in attaining and maintaining a high standard for their quality of life.  The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority will provide services and opportunities associated with affordable, desirable, and secure housing to individuals and families.  We will provide customer service, programs and amenities which are the best possible.  The BMHA also has a number of goals: to provide safe, clean, affordable housing to residents of the City of Buffalo that will be …

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Buffalo Sewer Authority

Eric Vogan — May 3, 2009

The Buffalo Sewer Authority is a public benefit corporation created by the New York State legislature in 1935 to clean wastewater before it is released into the environment.  The BSA also maintains the storm drains for the City of Buffalo.  The BSA serves the residents and businesses of the Buffalo area as well as some neighboring communities.  Currently, around 98,000 Buffalo residents and nearly 400 businesses in the City of Buffalo are served by the BSA. 

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Buffalo Water Authority

Amanda Schieber — May 3, 2009

The Buffalo Municipal Water Finance Authority Act governs the Water Board.  In general, the Buffalo Water Authority is empowered to establish, fix, revise, change, collect, and enforce the payments of all fees, rates, rents, and other service charges for the use of the services furnished by the system.  The Buffalo Water Authority is in charge of setting rates and of capital improvements to the system as a whole over $10,000.  Some specific powers of the Water Board: terminate …

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City of Buffalo Common Council

Edward Hawthorne — May 3, 2009

The Mayor is responsible for all executive and administrative functions and controls the day-to-day affairs of the City.  Under the City Charter the Mayor may veto actions taken by the Council.  The Council may override the Mayor’s veto with a vote of six of the nine members.  Each Council Member is elected by receiving a majority of the vote from the district in which they are seeking to serve.  The leadership positions of the Common Council are selected by and from …

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Erie County Comptroller

Robert Coly — May 3, 2009

The Erie County Comptroller derives his or her authority from New York State County Law, Article 14. New York State has established a method for choosing a comptroller and a set of rules governing the comptroller’s duties.  Erie County has chosen to elect a comptroller and defines the office’s authority in Article 19 of the Erie County Charter.  Erie County’s comptroller will serve terms of four years, and should be elected from the county at large.

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Erie County Industrial Development Agency

Patrick Fitzsimmons — May 3, 2009

The ECIDA is a public benefit corporation created by the New York State Legislature for the purpose of attracting and retaining private sector business development in Erie County.  That development creates local job opportunities and improves the overall economic environment for the people of Erie County.

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Erie County Legislature

Alicia Giglio — May 3, 2009

New York State County Law allows each county to designate a board of supervisors to supervise the county.  However, if the county chooses, it may establish an elected county legislative body to take on the functions, powers, obligations and duties of the board of supervisors.  In Erie County this elected legislative body is the Erie County Legislature.  The Erie County Legislature serves all of the residents of Erie County.  In order to equally represent all residents, the …

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Erie County Sewer Division and Sewer Districts

Nathan Kerstein — May 3, 2009

Each district is a self-supporting entity with the power to assess fees and levy local charges.  New York state law gives nearly complete autonomy to the county to run their agencies.  The specific agencies are empowered to assemble data relating to the water resources available in the county, number and location of wells, contaminants that are present in the supply of the water in the county, sewage collection and related issues that may arise.  Erie County has made the decision …

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Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA)

Michelle Liberty — May 3, 2009

NFTA provides transportation services in the Buffalo-Niagara region.  It oversees the Metro Bus and Rail System, the NFTA Boat Harbor, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, and the Niagara Falls International Airport.  NFTA is governed by a state law, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Act which created the Authority to further and improve transportation services within the Niagara Frontier. 

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Office of the Erie County Executive

Janette Clarke — May 3, 2009

The County Executive also has the power to appoint citizens to serve on any one of thirty-six Volunteer Boards.  These Boards often compile information in their respective areas and advise the County Legislature and County Executive.  The Volunteer Boards include the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, the Council on the Disabled, the Fisheries Advisory, the Health Board, the Local Early Intervention Council, and the Youth Services Board, to name just a few.  There are …

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The Mayor of Buffalo

Carrie Weremblewski — May 3, 2009

If the Mayor is temporarily unable to perform the duties of his office, the mayor’s designated officer whose appointment has been confirmed by the Common Council shall act as Mayor until the Mayor is able to.  The designation must be in writing and filed with the city clerk.  If the Mayor has not made such a designation, the president of the Common Council shall perform the Mayor’s duties until the Mayor is able to.  If the office of Mayor is vacant (as a result of …

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County Planning Boards

Nathan Kerstein — May 2, 2009

The main focus of the board should be to implement the Framework for Regional Growth and to combat sprawl in the region.  From 1980 to 2000 the developed area grew thirty-eight percent, even though population fell nearly six percent.  It has been estimated by the county that better planned development could save $800 million.

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Erie County Property Taxes

Greg Michalek — May 2, 2009

It is a tax on the assessed value of real property.  Typically set by school boards, town boards, village boards, and city and county governments.  Applies to both homeowners and businesses, although rates and exemptions may differ.  Each board determines the total amount of taxes it needs to raise, and then divides that number by the total taxable assessed value of the jurisdiction to determine the tax rate.  Your share of the tax is calculated by multiplying the tax rate …

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Freedom of Information: Federal and New York State Laws

Janette Clarke — May 2, 2009

The initial Freedom of Information Act was created so that the public could have greater access to records possessed by federal government agencies.  President Linden B. Johnson signed the Act into law on July 4, 1966 and it went into effect the next year.  While this Act applies only to federal agencies, all of the states have created similar statutes which require disclosure by state and local government agencies.

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Limited English Proficiency Access in Buffalo and Erie County

Amanda Schieber — May 2, 2009

An individual with a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English may be termed limited English proficient, or LEP.  In 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 33% of Spanish speakers and 22.4% of Asian speakers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported that they spoke English either “not well” or “not at all.”  The percentages are based on the 2000 census, which reported 26 million individuals speaking Spanish as their primary language, and 7 …

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Municipal Unions

Edward Hawthorne — May 2, 2009

Erie County cannot hire part-time workers in place of full-time workers.  An arbitrator from the state's Public Employees Relations Board ruled in favor of the Civilian Service Employees Association Local 815. The union filed an improper practice charge last year after County Executive Chris Collins hired about 150 regular part time workers.  The arbitrator ruled that the county violated the state's Taylor Law when it failed to negotiate with the union before hiring part time workers …

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New York State Campaign Finance Laws

Patrick Fitzsimmons — May 2, 2009

Campaign finance laws govern how political candidates raise and spend monies for their elections.  In general, there are three ways in which states regulate campaign finance: (1) disclosure, (2) contribution limits, and (3) public financing.  Disclosure requires a candidate to disclose campaign-related contribution receipts as well as expenditures.  Expenditures can include anything from advertising material to travel expenses.  Contribution Limits restrict the amount of …

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Sustainability Offices for Local Governments

Robert Coly — May 2, 2009

The most widely recognized definition of sustainability is found in the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.  It says that sustainability means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency also provides a definition of sustainability.  The EPA says that sustainability is “a new way of thinking about an …

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The Erie County Holding Center and Correctional Facility

Rachel Jones — May 2, 2009

The Erie County Holding Center is a maximum security detention center.  The Center is used to house inmates before their trials.  The Erie County Holding Center is located at 40 Delaware, Buffalo New York, 14202.  The Erie County Correctional Facility is a medium security facility, which can house 1,070 inmates.  It holds inmates who have committed a variety of different crimes.  The Correction Facility also houses parole violators for the State of New York.  These …

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Erie County's Budget

Eric Vogan — Apr 30, 2009

Citizens have two opportunities to influence the budget publically.  The first is when the County Executive and the Director of Budget and Management hold their public meetings, and the second is when the County Legislature holds its public meeting.  Citizens can also write to the County Executive and County Legislature to influence the budget.  If during the year a department needs more money for a program, the Executive can appropriate funds from one part of a department to …

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Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blueprint

Donna Brown — Apr 29, 2009

High levels of poverty in the City of Buffalo continue to persist despite significant economic development in the last several years.  With recent data by the U.S. Census Bureau listing Buffalo as the third poorest city in the nation, it is imperative that a comprehensive and strategic approach be put into place to address this situation.  This report is designed to be a blueprint for strategic planning and action to reduce the level of poverty in Buffalo and assure that all of …

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Public School Discipline: Alternatives to Suspension

Marnie Smith — Apr 29, 2009

Most public school districts rely heavily on suspensions for student discipline.  Section 2801 of the Education Law requires that school districts create a code of conduct, and one of the most common punishments for a violation of the code is out of school suspension.

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The City of Buffalo Budget Fiscal Year 2008-2009

Harvey Asiedu-Akrofi — Apr 29, 2009

The City asserts that it has the ability to: afford three successive property tax cuts”, thereby reducing the overall property tax rate on residential properties by nearly 12%; maintain an unprecedented unreserved fund balance of $105 million with $76 million undesignated; set aside $30 million in City surplus funds and up to $15 million in a separate capital reserve to ensure the City never again faces a fiscal crisis; move the City from a fiscal control period to an advisory one; …

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City of Buffalo Property Tax

Victoria Schmidt — Apr 26, 2009

The property tax is essentially a tax placed on property owners by the municipality.  Cities outside of New York City may use only revenue sources authorized by New York State, and the property tax is one of those few sources.  The property tax is based on the value of the property.  The tax is calculated by multiplying a property’s taxable assessment by the tax rate that applies to the tax jurisdiction where the property is located.

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Open Meetings Law

Alicia Giglio — Apr 26, 2009

By law, citizens have the right to attend meetings of public bodies, listen to the debates, and watch the decision-making process in action.  These meetings are considered “open meetings.”  Article seven of the New York State Public Officers Law is entitled, Open Meetings Law.  This law lays out all of the requirements and exemptions for meetings held by public bodies.  The Open Meetings Law went into effect in 1977. 

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Racial Disparities in Buffalo

Carrie Weremblewski — Apr 23, 2009

This fact sheet examines data on racial disparities in Buffalo and, where possible, compares it with data from four other medium-sized cities with similar racial composition.  Buffalo is the 8th most segregated metropolitan area in the nation. Segregation is prominent not only in the region, but also within the city, with South Buffalo consisting of 96% whites and 1% African Americans and Masten Community consisting of 87% African Americans.

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The Erie Canal Harbor Development: Building on Community Assets for a Sustainable Future

Apr 21, 2009

This policy brief frames the redevelopment of the Erie Canal Harbor as a tool for building on our existing assets and addressing our chronic challenges.  Ultimately, development of this vital and historic district will be accomplished on public land and with additional public resources and subsidies.  As such, Buffalo's Inner Harbor redevelopment, like and development receiving public funds, should have clear and achievable goals that advance public purposes.

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Childcare Workers

Leah Hardy — Apr 19, 2009

Childcare workers monitor infants and children to ensure their well-being and safety.  They provide primary care for infants (change diapers, prepare bottles, put them down for naps, etc.) and provide activities to keep older children occupied and help them to “develop self-esteem, curiosity, imagination, physical skills, and speech.”

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Buffalo Board of Parking

Elena Steigman — Apr 7, 2009

The mission of the Board of Parking (“BP”) is to relieve traffic congestion and to promote the clearance and reconstruction of substandard or unsanitary areas in Buffalo by coordinating City-owned and privately owned parking facilities and spaces strategically, environmentally and with minimal interference with Buffalo’s streetscapes, skyline and views.  The Mayor appoints eleven members to the Board of Parking for staggered five-year terms.  The Mayor designates the …

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IDA Reform

Sam Magavern — Mar 9, 2009

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on IDA reform.  I teach at the University at Buffalo Law School in the areas of affordable housing and community economic development.  I am submitting these remarks on behalf of the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG).  PPG has united over 40 Buffalo-area non-profits around a 2009 Community Agenda, which includes this plank regarding subsidy reform: Reform New York State’s Subsidy Programs New York State should reform its major …

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Missing the Target

Sam Magavern, Anthony Armstrong, Daniel Webster — Feb 6, 2009

Buffalo is the nation’s third most impoverished city.  Buffalo’s East Side and West Side neighborhoods are two of Buffalo’s most impoverished areas.  If any two neighborhoods are in need of economic development, it is these two.  And yet, despite spending billions of dollars on economic development programs each year, the State, County, and City have largely ignored these neighborhoods and their increasingly desperate residents.  Programs, funds, and …

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The Difference a University Makes: An Updated Impact Analysis of the University at Buffalo

Kathryn Foster — Jan 6, 2009

The following presents findings of an economic impact assessment of the University at Buffalo conducted by the UB Regional Institute at the request of the UB Office of External Affairs.  This analysis updates and expands upon a 2007 economic impact study of the university (see The Difference a University Makes: An Impact Analysis of the University at Buffalo, August 2007, available at http://www.buffalo.edu/community/pdfs/UB_Impact_Analysis.pdf.)  The assessment captures the economic …

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Buffalo's Demolition Strategy

Sarah Lyons — Jan 1, 2009

Buffalo, New York is one of many U.S. cities that experienced an extreme decline in population since the mid-twentieth century.  Migration out of the city has been crippling, the population declining by nearly 50 percent from 1950 to 2000. Many people left the city for the surrounding suburbs, an area that experienced a 50 percent increase in population over this same period.  Now, Buffalo faces the challenge of an outdated infrastructure that is much too large for its 21st Century …

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Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority

Robert Goodwin — Dec 8, 2008

The Authority is an international entity, created out of an agreement between the State of New York, with the consent of the United States Congress, and the Canadian Government.  The Authority’s mission is to be known as the premier Canada/US international border crossing.  The Authority strives to provide excellent customer service and be an effective channel for trade and tourism between the two nations.  The Authority governs the Peace Bridge.  The …

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The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation

Michael Mettille — Dec 8, 2008

The ECHDC is currently developing the Inner and Outer Buffalo Harbor, most notably where the historic terminus of the Erie Canal is.  The ECHDC is also developing some of the surrounding area including the old Memorial Auditorium and the Donovan State Building.

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Artspace Buffalo: Buffalo Artists Residence & Gallery

Gary Phillips — Nov 20, 2008

Located at 1219 Main Street in Buffalo, New York, Artspace Buffalo provides affordable housing and work space for artists and their families, and commercial space for arts organizations and arts-related businesses.  Even though the project is relatively new, American Style Magazine, in its April 2008 issue, named Buffalo the top "Arts Destination for Mid-Sized Cities." Among the attractions and facilities that the magazine noted was Artspace Buffalo, which it said added to the city's …

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Buffalo Arts and Culture

Robert Goodwin — Nov 20, 2008

A 2003 study found that the combined spending of 700,000 tourists at 17 "sample" arts and cultural attractions and the organization's own spending during the 2003 summer, had a $75 million impact on the Buffalo Niagara region.  What is the Arts Council in Buffalo & Erie County? The Arts Council is a local organization, dedicated to advocating for and promoting the region's arts and cultural industry.  What role does New York State government play in supporting Buffalo's arts and …

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IDA Consolidation

Michael Mettille — Nov 20, 2008

Multiple IDA’s confuse businesses and force them to navigate too much red tape.  There are too many IDA’s and they have overlapping areas of responsibility.  Multiple IDA’s contribute to the region’s economic decline.  Multiple IDA’s foster a spirit of intramural competition among municipalities rather than fostering a spirit of cooperation to compete at the varsity level (i.e. national and international level.  No real growth is generated by …

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Immigrants and Refugees in Buffalo

Louise Calixte — Nov 20, 2008

Many of the refugees were living in refugee camps until migrating to Buffalo.  In these camps, time was not regulated.  In working for an employer, many immigrants find the time-orientation very challenging. A similar problem involves calling employers in situations where the worker is going to be late or will not be able to make it in that day.  In many of the foreign countries that the immigrants come from, a worker needs only come in late or the next day and explain what had …

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Informal Economies

Chris Berardi — Nov 20, 2008

The informal economy comprises the parts of the economy that are not regulated.  These parts include illicit activity like the sale of drugs, architects doing work under the table, hairdressers who operate in cash and don’t report their income, businesses employing illegal workers, and businesses operating without government required licenses.  Informal economic actors are often self-employed, or are employed elsewhere and operating an informal business on the side as a means …

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Community Benefits Agreements

Amy Kaslovsky — Nov 19, 2008

Community Benefits Agreements (CBA’s) are legally enforceable contracts between community groups and developers in which community groups promise to support the developers in seeking approvals, permits, or subsidies, and the developers promise to provide certain benefits to the surrounding community.  CBA’s are outgrowths of the civil rights, labor, and community organizing movements. CBA’s often represent community-based unionism, where organized labor supports …

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Economic Inequality in New York State

Amy Kaslovsky — Nov 19, 2008

New York State was the state with the greatest income disparity between the rich and poor in the mid-2000s.  At that time incomes in the bottom fifth of the population were 8.7 times lower than those in the top fifth.  In New York City this gap was even wider.  In the mid-2000s the City’s top income quintile had an average income 9.5 times higher than the average income of the bottom quintile.  Overall income in New York State grew between the 1980s and the mid-2000s …

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Alternative Tax Strategies for Local Governments

Robert Coly — Nov 18, 2008

During the fiscal year 2004-05, New Yorker’s paid approximately $111 billion in state and local taxes.  Of this total, local taxes accounted for 55% or $61 billion.  Local tax revenues come mainly from the property tax and sales tax, which account for $34 billion and $10 billion, respectively.  Taxes are important to development for two reasons.  First, the tax burden on low and middle class families affects local citizen’s standard of life, access to affordable …

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Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau

Irene Pijuan — Nov 16, 2008

The CVB is currently drafting a five-year strategic plan that will guide its sales and marketing efforts on behalf of the local tourism industry.  The plan, when complete, will serve to refine the CVB’s mission as a destination marketing organization and the official tourism promotion agency for Erie County.  Focus groups have been conducted with a variety of partner organizations representing the hotel, restaurant, retail, attraction, sports, cultural and philanthropic …

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Community Development Block Grants and Buffalo

Amy Kaslovsky — Nov 16, 2008

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program is a federal program run by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  CDBG grants are provided to state and local governments for the purpose of addressing community needs such as affordable housing, job creation, and retention and expansion of business activity.  Grants are available for projects lasting from one to three years.  Seventy percent of the funding must be used for the benefit of low and …

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Poverty Level Work in Western New York

Sam Magavern — Nov 16, 2008

A large percentage of the jobs in western New York do not pay enough to keep a family safely out of poverty.  Roughly 125,000 workers are in occupations for which the median wage is less than $20,000 per year – including salespeople, cashiers, security guards, and child care workers.  Another 40,000 workers are in jobs where the median wage falls between $20,000 and $23,000 – including janitors, home health aides, pre-school teachers, and teachers assistants.

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The Broadway Market Management Corporation

Rachel Jones — Nov 16, 2008

Until very recently, the Broadway Market was run by the Broadway Market Management Corporation, under Executive Director, Richard Fronczak.  James Malczewski, Helen Wylubski, Peter Cammarata, Otis Cowart, and Joseph Petruso were members of the board.  Some of the members were appointed directly by the mayor.  Other members included the city comptroller, the Fillmore District member of the council, the Erie County Legislator representing the area, tenants and the neighborhood …

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The Buffalo Central Terminal and Economic Development

Karen Andolina-Scott — Nov 16, 2008

BCT was completed in 1929 by New York Central Railroad, shortly before the stock market crash leading to the Great Depression.  Between 1929 and 1933 the railroads’ gross operating and net revenues fell; costs dramatically increased while passenger’s disposable incomes decreased.  The railroads were responsible for their own maintenance and capital improvements, while the Federal Government was actively subsidizing auto, bus and air travel.  In addition, taxes paid by …

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The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency

Karen Andolina-Scott — Nov 16, 2008

BURA was created under New York State’s General Municipal Law Article 15-B §639.  This statute directly states who should compose the board of BURA.  It states that BURA shall be composed of the mayor of the city of Buffalo and eight other members including Buffalo’s president of the common council, chairman of the urban renewal committee of the common council, minority leader of the common council, corporation counsel, commissioner of urban renewal, commissioner of …

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Saving Buffalo's Untold Beauty

Nicolai Ouroussoff — Nov 14, 2008

One of the most cynical clichés in architecture is that poverty is good for preservation.  The poor don’t bulldoze historic neighborhoods to make way for fancy new high-rises.  That assumption came to mind when I stepped off a plane here recently.  Buffalo is home to some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with major architects like Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright …

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Predatory Business Practices: Automobile Financing

Rachel Jones — Nov 12, 2008

Poverty is an ever-growing problem affecting much of the country.  People fall into financial holes and certain industries make sure that they stay there.  Low-income individuals are targets for businesses that make their money by providing needed benefits now with an exorbitant cost later.  Jacob S. Hacker, a political scientist at Yale, has said that low-income people are forced to live beyond their means by businesses that target them.  According to a series in The …

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Early Childhood Education in Buffalo, New York

Caitlin Connelly — Nov 10, 2008

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) defines early childhood education as the learning experience of a child from birth to age eight.  It is generally agreed that the human brain undergoes great growth and change in the years before age five.  High-quality early childhood education will include development of a child’s cognition, language, motor, adaptive, social, and emotional skills.

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Brownfield Cleanup and Development in Buffalo, New York

Caitlin Connelly — Nov 8, 2008

Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties for which expansion, development, or reuse may be complicated by environmental contamination, such as the presence of a hazardous substance or pollutant.  Examples of brownfields include the former sites of factories, mills, rail yards, gas stations, and dry cleaners.

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Catholic Church Closings

Karen Andolina-Scott — Nov 7, 2008

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo was established on April 23, 1847.  It serves the following counties in New York State: Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, Chautauqua, Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Allegany.  The Diocese covers 6,455 square miles and has a Catholic population of 702,884.  In June 2005, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, the bishop of Buffalo, initiated a “parish-based strategic plan and spiritual revitalization initiative” called “Journey in Faith and …

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Richardson Center Corporation

Gary Phillips — Nov 7, 2008

The mission of the RCC is to rehabilitate the Richardson Olmsted Complex, which is located in the City of Buffalo. Generally, the RCC ―envision[s] the rehabilitation of the National Historic Landmark H. H. Richardson Complex (the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane), comprised of the H. H. Richardson-designed buildings and Frederick Law Olmsted-designed grounds, to be the crowning jewel of a mixed-use, multi-purpose civic campus of public and private activities.‖ Additionally, the …

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Historic Preservation

Rachel Jones — Nov 6, 2008

Historic preservation is the physical rehabilitation of historical buildings and neighborhoods.  The United States began its campaign for preservation in the 1960s.  Historic preservation has been a concern for the United States for a long time.  In 1966, the federal government established the “National Historic Preservation Act”.  The purpose of the act was to insure that the cultural and historical foundations of the country were preserved in the face of …

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Professional Sports Subsidies

Irene Pijuan — Oct 24, 2008

The subsidies to franchise owners take two forms—tax breaks and the availability of arenas at a very low cost.  Public subsidies take the form of new stadiums and arenas provided by local authorities and financed by taxpayers or by issuing state bonds.  The subsidy starts with the federal government, which allows state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to help finance sports facilities.  Tax exemption lowers the interest on debt and so reduces the amount that …

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NYSERDA: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Jenna Piasecki — Oct 3, 2008

There are four regional offices located in Albany, New York City, Buffalo, and West Valley.  The major staff is broken into three subgroups.  Energy Analysis has 21 staff members, most with the title of project manager.  Energy Efficiency Services has 34 staff members at the main office, 5 in New York City, and 1 in Buffalo.  The Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program staffs 29 employees at the main office, 4 in New York City, and 2 in Buffalo.  The Research …

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The New York Power Authority

Chris Berardi — Oct 3, 2008

The Power Authority gives subsidies in the forms of discounted power to municipalities, industrial customers, and through various means to residential customers.  Until recently, power leftover after sales to industrial customers went to National Grid, a private entity, which then passed on some of the savings to residential customers.  Now the Power Authority keeps that leftover power that they can sell at normal rates elsewhere.

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Erie County Office of Economic Development

Louise Calixte — Oct 2, 2008

The OED has constant challenges in getting enough financial resources.  Since there is no specific budget allocation, the OED must compete with other priorities of the Department of Planning and Economic Development.  Another challenge that the OED faces is complicated ownership issues, specifically with brownfields.  In order to remediate the sites, legal ownership issues have to be resolved.  At times, this process is arduous and time consuming.

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Subprime Lending: the Rotten Core of the Current Economic Crisis

Sam Magavern — Oct 1, 2008

Subprime lending has triggered a global financial crisis, but it remains misunderstood.  Here are some basic facts, culled from an upcoming report on abandoned housing by the Partnership for the Public Good.  Subprime loans are high cost loans, ostensibly designed for people with less than “prime” credit.  In reality, mortgage brokers and lenders often succeed in selling subprime loans to people with good credit.  According to the Wall Street Journal, by 2006, …

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Easy Ways to Lower your Utility Bills

Aug 7, 2008

The average home in Buffalo can expect energy bills of $2,267 per year.  An energy-efficient home in Buffalo will have much lower bills – only $1,451 per year.  That is a savings of $816.  Here are some simple steps you can take to start saving money on your energy bills.

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Greening Buffalo: What Local Governments Can Do

Sam Magavern — May 2, 2008

Almost every city in the Unites States is undertaking a significant green initiative.  Policy makers, advocates, and citizens are realizing that the future of cities lies in sustainability, and that the future of the environment depends on urban policy.

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HUD Homes: How they Can Promote Home Ownership and Reduce House Abandonment

Yumi Choi-Bose — May 1, 2008

For many, the American Dream still means owning a home.  The home ownership rate in the U.S. fell in the fourth quarter of 2007 to its lowest level since the beginning of 2002--this from a record high in the middle of 2004.  What is more alarming, however, is that the home owner vacancy rate went up 2.8 percent.  The bulk of the vacant homes are foreclosed homes.  Among such foreclosed homes are Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homes that have come into …

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Internet Access: An Easy Solution for a Tough Problem

Janette Clarke — May 1, 2008

The city of Buffalo should create and advertise a single website that provides access and links to all public information about Housing Court cases, housing violations and housing permits to promote community involvement and serve as an early warning system for problem properties.

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Preventing Deterioration and Abandonment of Rental Properties in Buffalo

Amy Kaslovsky — May 1, 2008

The City of Buffalo faces a severe abandoned housing crisis.  One component of this immense problem is the abandonment of rental housing due to dilapidated conditions.  Forcing landlords to keep their properties in good repair will help to reduce abandonment of rental housing.  Several mechanisms hold landlords in Buffalo accountable for the poor conditions of their buildings.  The warranty of habitability requires landlords to maintain decent, safe, and sanitary …

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Marketing City-Owned Properties

Corey Rossi — Apr 30, 2008

An effective housing strategy must incorporate efficient disposition of city-owned property.  A successful disposition program should include a marketing campaign that facilitates the transfer of city-owned property to productive use.  Last year, the City of Buffalo initiated a marketing program that assisted in the sale of 125 homes.  A major component of this marketing program was a catalog of City-owned homes.  The City distributed the catalog to local nonprofits, …

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City of Buffalo Contracting Process: Demolition Contracts

Michael McMahon II — Apr 29, 2008

At one time, bidding was centralized in the City of Buffalo (Buffalo).  The centralized bidding was organized under the Department of Urban Renewal.  Interview with James Comerford and Paul Mielcarek of the City of Buffalo Department of Economic Development Permit and Inspection Services (April 17, 2008).  In the late 60s and early 70s the city moved to the current model which was based on the Chicago style of municipal bidding.  The Chicago model broke out the bidding …

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Healing our Houses will Cure Lead Poisoning Epidemic

Daniel Webster — Apr 23, 2008

Two main obstacles hinder efforts to end lead poisoning in Buffalo.  One, lack of knowledge in at-risk populations about causes, symptoms, and prevention, which puts people at greater risk and makes enforcement of current system difficult.  Two, the poor condition of our houses makes repairs unaffordable to homeowners and discourages outside investment.

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The Third Party Transfer Program: A Tool Buffalo Can Use to Reduce Property Abandonment

Douglas Michaels — Apr 22, 2008

Buffalo needs an effective program to quickly fight abandonment.  In the past twenty years, Buffalo’s tax-foreclosure abandonment rate has increased.  If the City does not sell these abandoned properties or at it’s an annual In-rem auction, then it generally takes title to them, selling a small number and putting the rest on the City’s long demolition list.  This leaves the City to maintain many unsold dilapidated properties that drain City resources and …

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Existing and Potential Remedies for Illegal Flipping in Buffalo, New York

Scott Mancuso — Apr 15, 2008

The City of Buffalo should amend the documents used at the annual In Rem foreclosure auction to require more information from bidders and purchasers under penalty of perjury, thereby making it easier to detect, deter, and punish parties interested in purchasing properties to illegally flip them.  There are already more abandoned houses in the City of Buffalo than it can even keep track of.  These houses lower property values of surrounding homes in already distressed neighborhoods and …

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Preventing Tax Foreclosures in the City of Buffalo

Mike Streit — Apr 14, 2008

Over the past three years, tax foreclosures have risen approximately 150% in the city of Buffalo.  While tax foreclosures are spread across the city, they are heavily concentrated in the Masten and Fillmore districts of the city.  To combat the increase in tax foreclosures, Buffalo should study the principle causes of tax foreclosures in the area and be prepared to provide financial education classes, payment plans extending for more than one year, and financial assistance to …

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Comptroller's Review of the Costs of Real Property Tax Assessment in Erie County

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 25, 2008

The New York State Office of Real Property Services (“NYSORPS”) has stated that “New York's property tax system is, arguably, the most complex and confusing in the country.”  NYSORPS data show that there are 1,133 distinct assessing units in New York State, as contrasted with 59 in California.  Only the State of Michigan has more assessing units than New York State.  In Erie County, thirty (30) municipal governments consisting of cities, towns and villages …

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The Control Boards: Time for an Objective Review and Real Reforms

Mar 18, 2008

Justifications for the Buffalo and Erie County control boards usually depend on two false premises: (i) the problem is “bloated” and “inefficient” city and county government; and (ii) the solution is to add another layer of government composed of non-elected, state-appointed officials.  The typical commentary lumps all local elected officials together, ignoring large differences between different politicians and between the city and county.  It ignores the big …

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City of Buffalo 2008-2009 Budgets and Four Year Plans

Sam Magavern — Mar 7, 2008

I am writing on behalf of the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) to comment on the City of Buffalo’s 08-09 Action Plan Recommendation.  PPG is a new collaboration promoting a revitalized, sustainable Buffalo through research and advocacy.  Our 2008 Platform has been endorsed by over 30 organizations, including Belmont Shelter, Catholic Charities, Community Action, Cornell University ILR School, PUSH Buffalo, the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, and the Center for Urban …

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Greening the Richardson Complex

Feb 25, 2008

One of the Platform’s planks calls on Buffalo to meet the commitment it made under the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce its carbon emissions.  Buildings are the single largest source of carbon emissions in Buffalo, due to the carbon released in the processes of heating them, cooling them, and providing them with electricity.  The renovation of a large, old complex such as the Richardson Complex offers an important opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and aid …

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Position Statement on Route Five and the Peace Bridge

Feb 19, 2008

The Partnership for the Public Good rejects the Department of Transportation, the Public Bridge Authority, and the Federal Highway Administration's 'preferred alternatives', in favor of the community's preferred alternatives for Peace Bridge expansion and Route Five reconstruction.  In the Route Five and Peace Bridge projects, Buffalo has within its reach two opportunities to reinvigorate our waterfront and create real wealth and opportunity for existing and future residents and …

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Regionalism Revisited: The Effort to Streamline Governance in Buffalo and Erie County, New York

Craig Bucki — Jan 16, 2008

During the first half of the twentieth century, burgeoning grain transshipment trade and heavy manufacturing spurred the bustling economy of Buffalo, the eastern-most port on the shores of Lake Erie and the second-largest city in the State of New York.  With the jobs that these industries provided came residents to occupy them.  In the 1900 census, Buffalo ranked as the eighth-largest city in the United States, with a population of over 350,000.  By 1950, Buffalo could claim over …

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Beyond Food Deserts: Measuring and Mapping Racial Disparities in Neighborhood Food Environments

Samina Raja, Changxing Ma, Pavan Yadav — Jan 1, 2008

Given the emerging focus on improving food environments and food systems through planning, this article investigates racial disparities in neighborhood food environments.  An empirical case of Erie County, New York tests the hypothesis that people belonging to different racial groups have access to different neighborhood food destinations.  Using multiple methods—Gini coefficients and Poisson regression—we show that contrary to studies elsewhere in the country there are no …

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The Buffalo Olmsted Park System: Plan for the 21st Century

Jan 1, 2008

The System Plan for the Buffalo Olmsted Park System is a blueprint for the future of this unique “cultural landscape”.  The Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy, charged with the management and operations of these parks since 2004, initiated an inclusive and comprehensive planning process with the goal of restoring the system and enhancing the parks and parkways in ways that respect their status as important neighborhood, regional, national, and international resources.  The …

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The Geography of Urban Poverty

Wende Mix — Jan 1, 2008

The Census Bureau reports poverty statistics annually based on American Community Survey (ACS) data.  For the past two years this has included listing the ten places with the highest poverty rates and the ten with the lowest poverty rates.  This study considers the interpretation of these statistics when different geographies form the analytical framework.  As expected, interpretation of these statistics is influenced by the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP) in geography.

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Local Taxes in New York State: Easing the Burden

Dec 6, 2007

The months between the fall of 2007 and the adoption of New York State’s next annual budget in March 2008 are a critical juncture in the efforts to “fix Albany.”  The process by which the next budget is prepared and debated, as well as the substantive decisions it embodies, are critical to the movement for political and fiscal reform in New York State.  In order to promote fiscal reform, the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) is convening three separate agenda-setting …

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A Proposal to Create the Buffalo Green Land Bank

Robert Quinn — Dec 4, 2007

For many years the city of Buffalo has had far more housing units than households.  Buffalo has experienced a precipitous population decline over the past fifty years.  From 580,000 in 1950, Buffalo residents declined to 462,000 by 1970.  In 2006, the population had dropped to 276,059.  This flight from the city, a product of both suburbanization and the decline of the Rust Belt, has resulted in numerous vacant properties.  With a weak housing market and continued …

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Green Infrastructure Can Combat Combined Sewer Overflows

Dec 4, 2007

Every year millions of gallons of raw sewage are dumped directly into our local waterways here in Buffalo, NY.  Combined sewer overflows (or CSO’s) are the cause of this environmental and human health hazard, and they occur an average of 68 times per year, whenever we have heavy rain or snow.  Currently the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) is negotiating with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency …

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Is a Green Building an Energy Efficient Building?

Steven Mindy — Nov 27, 2007

Is a “green building” an energy efficient building? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “not necessarily.”  As the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) notes, green building rating systems are flexible, and buildings with poor energy efficiency may be certified “green.”  Accordingly, how do green rating systems address energy efficiency and what rating system is best suited to controlling operating costs in affordable …

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Methane and Cogeneration Technology: Renewable Energy Opportunities for Erie County Wastewater Treatment Plants

Priscilla Hampton — Nov 27, 2007

This proposal encourages the Erie County Division of Sewerage Management and the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) to explore opportunities to invest in combined heat and power technology at their wastewater treatment facilities.  As energy costs continue to rise, use of methane-fueled CHP systems will become more and more cost-effective.  Furthermore, facilities will increase energy efficiency, utilize renewable biofuels, decrease utility costs over time, and limit our dependence on …

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Local Advantage in a Global Era: Making Local Procurement Work for New York

Amy Kedron — Nov 13, 2007

Around the country municipalities have enacted local procurement preference laws, which give a competitive advantage to local firms bidding on public contracts.  Much of this legislation has been informed by a broader “local first” movement.  Those in this movement champion the many benefits of conducting business on a small local scale.

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Weatherization: A Step Towards Green Cities

Rebecca Town — Nov 1, 2007

Home heating is a basic necessity that comes at a very high cost, particularly for residents in the city of Buffalo.  Weatherization is an efficient and affordable method for reducing energy costs by increasing home energy efficiency.  Existing buildings are renovated to increase energy efficiency and decrease energy consumption.  Promotion of weatherization programs provides the City with an essential opportunity to financially empower its most vulnerable residents, who are the …

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Alternatives to Incarceration

Regional Institute — Oct 10, 2007

Like criminal justice officials throughout the country, Erie County officials and criminal justice system stakeholders are grappling with jail conditions at the Erie County Holding Center and Erie County Correctional Facility that can be summed up in two words: chronic overcrowding.  With jail construction costs skyrocketing and the nature of the jail population changing, identifying obstacles in the system that contribute to overcrowding and implementing alternatives to incarceration …

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Revitalizing Buffalo: Let's Take the High Road

Sam Magavern — Sep 1, 2007

Recently, Buffalo awoke to find that it had become the second-poorest major city in the nation, trailing only Detroit.  We are also second in rate of abandoned properties, right behind St. Louis.  Everyone agrees that we are a city in need of some economic development.  But what type of economic development do we need? As debates about the casino and Bass Pro demonstrate, the answers to this question vary widely.  Most observers, however, would probably agree that the …

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Affordable Housing and the Environment in Buffalo, New York

Sam Magavern — Jul 7, 2007

Buffalo is suffering from severe housing and environmental problems, many of which overlap.  New housing continues to sprawl into the suburbs and exurbs, despite a large surplus of housing units in Buffalo, where the City plans to demolish 10,000 units in the next ten years.  In general, housing is not being designed, built, or renovated in an environmental manner.  Our outdated housing policies and choices contribute significantly to pollution, both locally and globally: the …

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Sprawling by the Lake: How IDA-Granted Property Tax Exemptions Undermine Older Parts of the Buffalo/Niagara Metro Area

Allison Lack — May 1, 2007

An examination of the geographic distribution of property tax exemptions given to businesses in 2005 by the nine state-regulated Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) in the Buffalo/Niagara metro area reveals they have subsidized job creation outside of the region’s oldest, most densely populated and most transit-accessible areas, despite the fact those areas are most in need of jobs and reinvestment.  The exemptions’ sprawling, pro-suburban bias is especially evident in Erie …

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Buffalo Habitat for Humanity: The Challenges and Prospects of Green Building

Martha McNeill — Apr 19, 2007

Habitat for Humanity Buffalo has operated since 1985, and in that time has rehabilitated or built more than 150 homes in the cities of Buffalo and Lackawanna.  An affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), Habitat builds affordable housing for qualified low-income people.  Once approved, homeowners must put 500 hours of “sweat equity” into Habitat projects, including their homeowner education.  In return, they receive a zero-interest mortgage, the …

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PUSH Buffalo's Community Housing Co-operative: A Case Study in Green Building Rehabilitation

Mary O'Donnell — Apr 19, 2007

Between March 2006 and March 2007, a group of community organizers at People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) used green building methods to create affordable, safe, and sustainable housing by rehabilitating a formerly abandoned four unit building on Buffalo’s West Side.  Organizations and agencies involved in affordable housing can learn from PUSH’s example and should replicate or support similar projects because greener and more affordable housing will benefit the …

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Weatherization Assistance and Low-Income Households

Constance Giessert — Apr 19, 2007

Weatherization is one of the most efficient affordable housing tools available to communities and residents.  Weatherization is defined as the practice of protecting a building from the elements (such as sunlight, precipitation and wind) and modifying the building to reduce energy consumption and maximize energy efficiency.  Traditionally, weatherization processes have focused on heating and cooling as methods to conserve energy.  Currently, however, weatherization is expanding …

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Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part I)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

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Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part II)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

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Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part III)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

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Achieving a Greater Buffalo

Apr 1, 2007

This policy report argues that improving the quality of life for residents of all backgrounds living in Buffalo’s urban neighborhoods should be a central objective of any economic revitalization plan for the region.  In the process of strengthening housing and employment opportunities in the urban core, Buffalo should strive to become a premiere destination for innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs seeking a low-cost, culturally vibrant place in which to live and work.  The …

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Home Energy Conservation: Affordable Housing and the Environment

Katie Woodruff — Apr 1, 2007

For low-income homeowners and renters, paying the utility bills every month can become a struggle.  Even with assistance from programs such as Erie County Social Services HEAP program, many find paying those bills takes up a large portion of one’s income, decreasing funds available for other necessities.  Finding inexpensive ways to decrease utility bills can save money that could be better used elsewhere.  One way to reduce utility bills is to conserve energy.  Not …

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The Potential of Deconstruction in Buffalo, New York

Erik Faleski — Apr 1, 2007

Building deconstruction is not a novel idea but represents an ancient practice reinvented for our modern era.  Deconstruction is an environmentally friendly (yet fiscally remunerative) alternative to traditional building demolition.  Deconstruction is: [t]he process of carefully dismantling a building in order to salvage components for reuse and recycling.  Typically, a small team of skilled and licensed professionals disassemble the structure, setting aside the valuable …

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Violent Crime in the City of Good Neighbors

Regional Institute — Feb 1, 2007

A look at violent crime rates over the past twenty years shows that the ebb and flow of crime in Buffalo has reflected trends in many other cities: up in the early ‘90s, down during the mid and late ‘90s and rising gradually since 2000.  Similarly, the city’s shrinking police force is mirrored elsewhere as cities struggle with limited resources— resources that are hard to direct given uncertainty about the causes of crime.

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A Growing City: Hydroponic Farming in Buffalo

Cristen Manning — Jan 1, 2007

The City of Buffalo is need of revitalization. Vacant lots, a declining economy, widespread poverty, and a lack of employment opportunities are just a few of the issues that the City needs to address.  The City should consider implementing innovative policies, such as investing in and operating a hydroponic urban farm.  Hydroponic farming is highly productive and requires a fraction of the resources of traditional farming.  Although hydroponic farms are expensive to get started, …

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Arts & Economic Prosperity III

Americans for the Arts — Jan 1, 2007

The findings from Arts & Economic Prosperity III send a clear and welcome message: leaders who care about community and economic development can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts.  An input-output analysis model was customized for each of the participating communities and regions to determine the local economic impact their nonprofit arts and culture organizations and arts audiences.  Because of the variety of communities studied and the rigor with which the Arts …

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Can Buffalo Ever Come Back?

Edward Glaeser — Jan 1, 2007

At the onset of the Great Depression, Buffalo had 573,000 inhabitants, making it the 13th-largest city in America.  In the 75 years that followed, this once-mighty metropolis lost 55 percent of its population, a decline most dramatic in its blighted inner city but also apparent in its broader metropolitan area, one of the 20 most quickly deteriorating such regions in the nation.  Twenty-seven percent of Buffalo’s residents are poor, more than twice the national average.  …

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Don't Pay for your Neighbors' Garbage

Ryan Haggerty — Jan 1, 2007

The opportunities and benefits of recycling are under used in the City of Buffalo.  The city currently achieves a meager 7% diversion rate.  The rest of Erie County achieves a 42% diversion rate.  Clearly, a great deal of recyclable content is included in city household garbage.  Buffalo pays about $42 per ton of garbage it “tips” and it receives about $10 per ton of recyclable content it redeems.  Every ton of waste that households can divert from garbage …

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Integrating Deconstruction and Recycling Into the Demolition Process in Buffalo, NY

Tara Stahl — Jan 1, 2007

Buffalo’s Comprehensive Plan currently calls for the demolition of 10,000 buildings over a period of ten years.  While demolition contractors may recycle a small percentage of the waste created from demolitions, the process generates a great deal of waste that ends up in landfills.  Many of the materials that are thrown away after a building is demolished are either reusable or recyclable.  In order to lessen the negative environmental impact of building demolition, Buffalo …

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Residential Deconstruction in Buffalo: A Viable Alternative to Demolition

Sean Cooney — Jan 1, 2007

The problem of vacancy and abandonment manifests itself in many different ways.  Whether it is crime, decreasing property values, loss of tax revenue, neighborhood eyesores, or removing the condemned structures, the City of Buffalo is facing a monumental challenge both in resources and policy.  The deconstruction of abandoned homes offers opportunities for cost savings, environmental benefits, and economic development.  An alternative to demolition, deconstruction is the …

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Sustainable Roofs for Buffalo Schools

Andrew Zemrac — Jan 1, 2007

The Buffalo public school system, currently in the midst of a ten year, 1.1 billion dollar reconstruction project, has a unique opportunity to create sustainable, high performance schools.  Instead, the Joint Schools Construction Board has apparently decided to take a more conservative approach to the renovation plan, incorporating commendable, but limited initiatives such as updates to windows, lighting systems, heating systems, and exterior weatherization improvements.  This myopic …

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Sustaining Arts and Culture in Buffalo Niagara

Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth — Dec 19, 2006

Like all nonprofits, arts and culture organizations are not immune to the inevitable shifts in fiscal health due to trends in the region’s economy and in charitable giving.  In recent years, however, the shifts have turned sharply downward due to budget crises for one of the industry’s most important supporters – local government.  With cherished arts and cultural assets in Erie and Niagara Counties struggling to make ends meet, the region is suddenly forced to …

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Proposed Agreement with Seneca Erie Gaming Corporation, Seneca Gaming Corporation and Seneca Nation

Byron Brown — Oct 12, 2006

Letter from Mayor Byron W. Brown regarding the Seneca Erie Gaming Corporation.

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At Taxpayers' Expense

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara — Oct 1, 2006

Planning and managing growth are fundamental responsibilities of any local government.  It should be recognized that sprawling development can actually be more costly in the long run, not only to a particular municipality but also to those around it that may be affected by its decisions.  Inter-municipal collaboration could curb costs and prevent actions that are detrimental to neighboring communities.  These are complex issues, and sprawl is just one of several components …

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Framework for Regional Growth

Oct 1, 2006

The absence of a region-wide vision for conservation, development, and public investment has become an increasingly central concern of the Region’s leaders.  For the past two to three decades—the last regional plan was completed in 1974—local and regional actions have occurred without the benefit of reference to a larger policy or planning framework.  Important decisions regarding the location and pace of development, investments in economic development, the …

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Poverty: A State of Extremes

Oct 1, 2006

New York was the only state where both poverty and income exceeded national levels in 2005, with 13.8% of residents living in poverty and a median household income of $49,480.  This high poverty/high income paradox underscores a widening ‘wealth gap’ observed in New York and nationwide.  Buffalo Niagara differed from the state in 2005, with a poverty rate (12.7%) close to the U.S. average and a median household income that was $4,000 below the U.S. median.  Within the …

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Left Behind: How Difficulties with Transportation are a Roadblock to Self-Sufficiency

Homeless Alliance of Western New York — Sep 1, 2006

The Transportation Task Force, a project of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, completed a transportation needs assessment among homeless and very low-income persons at sites around Erie County.  The assessment was in survey form and was administered to approximately 800 people over a 5-day period.  From earlier focus groups with homeless individuals and the workers who directly serve them, the Task Force found that problems with affording public transportation and with …

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Buffalo Child Care Means Business: Full Study Report

Lou Jean Fleron, Lauren Breen, Regina Grogan, Danielle Dimitrov — Jan 1, 2006

Buffalo Child Care Means Business presents the economic and business case for making Buffalo's children the focus of economic development.  The 2006 survey of 117 businesses located in downtown Buffalo, New York, documents the business sector's present and projected reliance upon high quality child care services as a necessary component to optimum workplace recruitment, productivity and stability.  This promising study highlights research specific to the Buffalo region measuring the …

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The Persistence of Segregation in Buffalo, New York

Daniel Trudeau — Jan 1, 2006

Debates about the causes of segregation continue to consider the role that own-race preferences have in understanding the persistence of racial residential segregation in American cities.  In this paper, I offer an alternative to the own-race preference model.  I argue that segregation of low-income Black households from Whites persists in Buffalo, New York, because the spatial rootedness of Blacks’ survival strategies leads households to choose housing in the central city, …

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Housing Service Agency Structural Definition Report

Kelly Patterson, Robert Silverman — Nov 1, 2005

The Housing Service Agency Structural Definition Report was initiated in response to this emerging crisis.  The purpose of the report was to examine strategies used by other weak market cities to address this crisis, and develop a set of recommendations for establishing funding priorities for community-based housing organizations (CBHO) in the City of Buffalo.

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The Path Not Taken: How New York State has Increased the Tax Burden on the Middle Class and Cut Taxes for its Highest Income Taxpayers by over $8 Billion a Year

Frank Mauro — Jun 4, 2005

In 1972, New York State had a personal income tax with 14 brackets, ranging from a low of 2% to a high of 15%.  Since that time the state government has significantly restructured the state personal income tax in a variety of ways.  Among the changes that have been made since 1972 has been a move to something that is much closer to a flat tax.  This has been done by eliminating brackets from both the bottom and the top of the old structure.  For example, the lowest rate in …

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A Cultural Tourism Strategy: Enriching Culture and Building Tourism in Buffalo Niagara

Buffalo Niagara Cultural Tourism Initiative — Jan 1, 2005

Their continued dedication to the region's cultural, arts and heritage organizations and the development of cultural tourism has been, and will continue to be, essential to attaining the vision of “A Cultural Tourism Strategy”.  The cultural tourism mission is to strengthen cultural, artistic and heritage organizations; expand individual opportunities for creativity and interpretation; help our regional economy grow; enhance the quality of life in our communities; advance the …

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Losing Ground: Income and Poverty in Upstate New York, 1980-2000

Rolf Pendall, Susan Christopherson — Sep 1, 2004

Over the past several decades, Upstate New York has transitioned from a stable middle-income region to one with serious income and economic problems.  In 1969, per capita personal income (PCPI) in Upstate exceeded that of the United States, but by 2000, it trailed the national average by 11 percent.  These lagging incomes likely contribute to the substantial out-migration of mobile residents from the area—especially in the mid-1990s—which in turn is threatening economic …

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Solutions for a Better Quality of Life: A Guide to Solving Neighborhood Issues

May 1, 2004

There are several things you must understand in utilizing this document for concerns in your neighborhood.  First, it is meant to be an ever-changing document, reflecting today's problems and remedies.  Services change from time to time, and what worked to solve a problem last year may not work now.  Also, problems are solved differently district by district - the appropriate resource to contact in University Heights may not work in Hamlin Park, and vice-versa.  In order to …

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Transition and Renewal: The Emergence of a Diverse Upstate Economy

Rolf Pendall, Matthew Drennan, Susan Christopherson — Jan 1, 2004

During the 1900s, the U.S. transitioned from an economy based largely on manufacturing to one in which almost all jobs are in services.  This transition has rearranged the economic fortunes of regions throughout the nation: Locations in the Sunbelt and on both coasts prospered in the 1970s as traditional manufacturing centers in the Midwest declined.  But such “rust belt” states as Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan rebounded in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the hemorrhage of …

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Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities Asset Management Project

Jan 1, 2004

The purpose of the Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities Asset Management Project (Project) is to develop recommendations for the sustainable, economical and productive conservation, development and management of vacant land, buildings and facilities throughout the City of Buffalo.  The Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities report is a product of an effort designed to provide an overview of an array of related subjects and issues deemed important by Project participants.  The results …

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The Buffalo Financial Control Board

James Magavern — Nov 15, 2003

The current fiscal crisis of the City of Buffalo arises from and exemplifies the failure of state and local government over many decades to respond adequately to the shift of population, and especially the disproportionate shift of wealth, from the old central cities to the ever growing urban fringe beyond their boundaries.  For example, the Town of Amherst, with a population of 110,000 now has a larger real property tax base than the City of Buffalo, with a population of 293,000.  …

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Sprawl Without Growth: The Upstate Paradox

Rolf Pendall — Oct 1, 2003

People throughout the world place a strong value on the landscape, natural environment, and compact settlement pattern of Upstate New York.  The Adirondack and Catskill mountains, the Finger Lakes, the Lake Ontario shoreline, Lake Champlain, and the Thousand Islands attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.  At the scale of the entire landscape, farms and forests define the edges of Upstate’s cities, villages, and hamlets and form a distinctive matrix of land …

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Small Business: Big Challenge

Ramon Garcia — Jan 1, 2002

In recent years, the contributions of small business to the American economy have become increasingly apparent.  Small firms are a significant source of new jobs, and play crucial roles in the development of new technologies and provision of economic opportunities.  Small businesses may be especially critical to the regional economies of upstate New York, where a number of large employers have either moved their operations or scaled back their workforces.  As a result, it is …

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Champions @ Work: Employment, Workplace Practices and Labor-Management Relations in Western New York: A Study

Lou Jean Fleron, Howard Stanger, Eileen Patton — Jan 1, 2000

This study examines private sector employment, workplace practices and labor-management relations in Western New York (WNY) from the mid-1980s to the present.  It is a regional assessment, a benchmark designed to help the public and private sectors make informed decisions regarding enterprise and regional development.  Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations conducted the study as a part of its public service mission, with financial support from New York State.

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Integrity and Ethical Standards in New York State Government: Final Report to the Governor

Jan 1, 1990

September 1990 letter from the New York State Commission on Government Integrity to Governor Mario M. Cuomo.  “This letter constitutes the final report of the Commission on Government Integrity.  The Commission was created by Executive Order 88.1 and directed to examine a wide variety of subjects concerning government integrity in New York State.  Since its inception, the Commission has submitted 20 reports containing specific recommendations for reform of New York laws, …

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An Integrated Approach to Fighting Blight and Poverty in Buffalo's Low-Income Neighborhoods

Recently released Census data confirms the City of Buffalo is now among the very poorest and most blighted large cities in the United States.  The report pegs Buffalo’s poverty rate at 29.9%, ranking second behind only Detroit.  This news was released within days of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s announcement of his “5 in 5” Demolition Plan.  This plan sets a goal of demolishing 5,000 houses in five years, on the road to stabilizing Buffalo’s vacancy …

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Blueprint Buffalo

Over a period of about nine months, the NVPC team conducted interviews and gath­ered insights that have resulted in this report.  During the study period, Buffalo–Niagara emerged as a region broadly challenged by decades of disinvestment and population loss, but also as a close network of communities singularly blessed with a wealth of historic, transit-friendly, and affordable neighborhoods and commercial areas.  Building on the City of Buffalo’s “asset …

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Board of Block Clubs of Buffalo & Erie County

Information on Buffalo area block clubs and organizational material.

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Buffalo Arts Commission

City of Buffalo

Submit annually a capital budget request based on plans for the conservation of city-owned works of art, plans for the commissioning of new works of art, and the Commission's review and recommendations of projects enhancing the general aesthetic appearance of city property.  Advise the Mayor and Common Council concerning the removal or relocation of any works of art presently owned by the City of Buffalo.  Advise the Mayor and Common Council concerning the acceptance or declination of …

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Buffalo Housing Court Act

Excerpt from City Court of Buffalo. 

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Buffalo Waterfront Corridor Initiative

The Queen City Waterfront plan is based on a clear and simple vision that Buffalo, once a waterfront city, will be a waterfront city once again.  As a community, Buffalo is committed to making its waterfronts more accessible and environmentally healthy, to reconnecting neighborhoods to our waterfronts and getting best possible economic use from them, and to improving the efficiency of our waterfront transportation corridor and making sure it serves all our other goals.  This plan is …

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Buffalo's Comprehensive Plan

City of Buffalo

The Queen City in the 21st Century: Buffalo’s Comprehensive Plan is a bold statement by residents, businesses and political leaders about what kind of future Buffalo can expect if we plan together and implement with commitment.  Buffalo is the second largest city in the State of New York and the hub of the Buffalo- Niagara Region.  As Buffalo goes, so goes the region.  The Queen City in the 21st Century is based on that fundamental understanding.  The plan makes an …

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Buffalo's Tourism

Robert Goodwin

Erie County created the Office of Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) in 2001, which operates within the Erie County Planning division.  The purpose of this group is to oversee the distribution of an approximate $9 million annual investment among Erie County’s cultural tourist attractions.  This money is dispersed under two grants.  One of these grants, the Public Benefit funding, awards money to not-for-profits that focus on the region’s economic development and engage …

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Building the Blue Economy

Sam Magavern, Jen Kaminsky, Sarah Maurer

The United States has a serious problem with combined sewer overflows.  In responding to this environmental and public health menace, many regions are using innovative “green infrastructure” or “blue economy” approaches in addition to traditional “gray infrastructure” such as pipes and reservoirs.  These new methods offer many environmental benefits and cost efficiencies and can be a potent source of jobs – including entry level jobs.  …

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Bypassing the Bust: The Stability of Upstate New York's Housing Markets During the Recession

Jaison Abel, Richard Deitz

The United States experienced a sizeable boom in real estate activity between 1998 and 2006, followed by a sharp contraction.  Home prices rose over 8 percent per year, on average, between 2000 and 2006, but have been sinking at an average annual rate of 4 percent more recently.  Indeed, headlines in places such as California, Arizona, and Florida paint a stark picture of the boom-bust cycle experienced in many parts of the country.  For example, home prices have plunged by more …

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Casino Briefing

Presentation by the Citizens for a Better Buffalo on casino.

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City of Buffalo Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Board

City of Buffalo

The Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board was created to help the City of Buffalo find cooperative solutions for various problems experienced by cyclists, pedestrians and persons with disabilities.  The Board reviews City of Buffalo projects to ensure that they accommodate and encourage safe and legal travel by cyclists, pedestrians and persons with disabilities.  The Board advocates for the implementation of City of Buffalo plans and makes recommendations for bicycle and pedestrian …

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City of Buffalo Living Wage Ordinance

The city awards many contracts to private firms to provide services to the public and to city government. Experience indicates that procurement by contract of services has all too often resulted in the payment by service contractors to their employees of wages at or slightly above the minimum required by federal and state minimum wage laws.  Such minimal compensation tends to inhibit the quantity and quality of services rendered by such employees to the city and to the public.  …

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City of Buffalo vs. ABN Amro Mortgage

Overview of submitted court documentation.

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Commission on Citizens' Rights and Community Relations

City of Buffalo

The Commission on Citizens’ Rights & Community Relations of the City of Buffalo strives to eliminate prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and discrimination; to encourage equality of treatment and prevent discrimination against persons based upon race, ethnic background, cultural background, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, nationality and age; and to assure respect for the civil liberties of all citizens. 

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Community Reinvestment Act Advocacy

Bradford Reid

The Community Reinvestment Act obligates federally insured depository institutions to meet the credit needs of low and moderate income communities in a manner that is commensurate with sound lending practices.  The CRA itself is fairly successful, but with the rise of non-bank lenders and subprime loan products, it has become apparent that the CRA needs to be revised to include regulations that govern independent mortgage lenders.  This will make it easier to track and object to …

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Environmental Health and Racial Disparities in Buffalo

Nationally, roughly one third of the adults living in poverty are disabled.  In the city of Buffalo, the Census estimates that 21.1% of the population is disabled, compared to a national average of 15.1%.  In addition to working in low wage jobs, many of the residents of the East and West Side suffer from health problems and disabilities.

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Fundamental Shifts Have Altered the Role of Local Governments

James Magavern

In the day-to-day practice of law, the most pervasive change in municipal law has been ever-increasing specialization.  This is attributable in small part to the continuing elaboration of common law doctrine and in larger part to a dense overlay of state and federal regulation (including regulation through grant conditions), not only of the private sector but of local government itself.  For example, consider the State Environmental Quality Review Act, Taylor Law, and Freedom of …

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Historic Preservation

City of Buffalo

The Buffalo Preservation Board reviews all exterior changes to landmark properties or properties located within City of Buffalo Preservation Districts as per Chapter 337 of City of Buffalo Code.  If the proposed work is a small repair or an in-kind replacement, a staff-level review may be possible.  If not, the project will be reviewed at an upcoming Preservation Board meeting.  The preservation Board uses the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and …

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Homelessness among Young Adults in Buffalo: A Research Report Highlighting Youth Voices

Elizabeth Bowen, Ryan Savino, Berg Miller, Dale Zuchlewski, Kexin Ma, Christine Slocum

This reports summarizes the results of a study about homelessness among young adults (age 18-24), conducted by researchers from the University at Buffalo (UB) School of Social Work, in collaboration with the Homeless Alliance of Western New York (HAWNY), Compass House Resource Center, and other community partners.

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Individuals Below the Poverty Level

Census Tracts in the City of Buffalo.

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Is English Your Second Language?

Flyer for patients outlining their rights to request an interpreter for medical care.

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Labor Force and Unemployment Data

Department of Labor

Due to a new estimating methodology implemented in January 2005, sub-state labor force statistics from January 2000 to present are not comparable to data from earlier years.  More information on breaks in series can be found in Technical Notes.  Questions regarding labor force statistics should be directed to your local labor market analyst.  Labor force estimates provide the most up-to-date estimates of persons employed and unemployed by place of residence.  Labor force …

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Labor Unions and Coalitions in Buffalo

Heather Anderson

Labor unions have evolved tremendously since their inception in 1866 in the United States.  Today, some unions in the Buffalo region are responding to free market fundamentalism with the development of multiple coalition partners.  Coalitions are composed of unions and like-minded activist organizations. This creative response to a long-term economic crisis has created a high road social infrastructure.  Unions have moved beyond their traditional roles of collective bargaining …

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Localization in Buffalo

Kathleen Moriarty

Generally speaking, localization is the idea of keeping as much of a region’s resources and energy as local as possible - business, employment, agricultural yields, and economic goods.  Localization also includes an effort to reduce the distance that goods travel between production and consumption.

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Overview of Municipal Vacant Building Registries

As regions grow and populations migrate outside city centers, many municipalities are being confronted with a rise in vacant properties.  To help combat this increase, some municipalities require the owners of vacant buildings to register their property.  In most cases, the owner must register the property within 30 days of the property becoming vacant or face civil and criminal penalties and/or liens on the property.  Nonetheless, the definition of “vacant,” the fees …

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Poverty and Buffalo: Beyond the Headlines

Wende Mix

On August 28, 2007 the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics on poverty and earnings in the United States.  These statistics were based on results from the 2006 American Community Survey (ACS) which is an ongoing (continuous measurement) survey conducted by the Bureau.  The Buffalo News published a front page story on August 30, 2007 with the following headline “Buffalo falls to second-poorest big city in U.S., with a poverty rate of nearly 30 percent”.  The Census …

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Preparing Teachers for Poverty's Challenges

John Sikar

Preparing Teachers for Poverty's Challenges PowerPoint presentation.

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Profile of Buffalo and its Region

Like many places in the nation’s manufacturing belt, the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area has been losing population over the past several decades.  This decline reflects the long-term shift of population from the Northeast and Midwest to warmer places in the South and West, as well as the considerable loss of manufacturing jobs in the region.  Population loss has been especially severe in the Buffalo area, however, mostly due to its obvious weather disadvantages and an economy …

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Refugees: Challenges, Opportunities, and Resources

Jill Koyama

Jill Koyama’s PowerPoint presentation “Refugees: Challenges, Opportunities, and Resources”. 

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Starting a School Recycling Program

Compiled list of foundational aspects and resources to start a school recycling program.

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Taxes in New York State: Restoring Fairness and Equity to the Personal Income Tax to Reverse Decades of Reliance on the Property Tax- Short and Long Term Solutions

Ron Deutsch

Governor Spitzer has recently created a Property Tax Commission to examine the root causes of high property taxes in NYS.

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The Peace Bridge Chronicles

Bruce Jackson

Many articles regarding the Peace Bridge written by Bruce Jackson.

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Typical Elements in Limited English Proficiency Plans

Outlines the typical elements in Limited English Proficiency Plans (LEP).  

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Urban Design Project

The Urban Design Project is involved in a wide range of public planning and urban design efforts across a bi-national Buffalo Niagara region, encompassing three Western New York counties as well as reaching across our borders into southern Ontario.  We are also engaged internationally with work throughout the United States with the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence and south as far as the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica.  We work with communities to develop plans, facilitate …

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Workforce Training Programs

Kathleen Moriarty

Workforce training programs are typically community sponsored organizations whose primary goals are to assist (1) community members in gaining employment and (2) employers in finding qualified workers. Organizations that focus on workforce training needs make every effort to be “one stop” shops: they bring together employers, employees and training programs to maximize communication and efficiency. Many of the partner organizations also provide GED preparation and assistance in …

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