Buffalo Commons



Climate Solutions are Health Solutions: An Evaluation of PUSH Green's Home Energy Efficiency Program

Colleen Kristich, Becca Bass, Clarke Gocker, Nicholas Rajkovich — Jul 6, 2022

PUSH Green, a program of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) in Buffalo, New York, addresses housing, health and climate needs all at the same time. PUSH Green links homeowners and renters with low-cost or no cost home energy improvements, which reduce the household’s use of fossil fuels and in turn save money on utility bills. The primary environmental and economic benefits of weatherization programs have been apparent for decades; however, it is only recently that attention has …

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The City of Buffalo’s Untapped Power to Discipline Police Officers

Miles Gresham — Oct 29, 2021

Drawing on decisions from the New York State Court of Appeals, this brief argues that the City of Buffalo has an untapped power to discipline police officers, outside of the provisions in its contract with the police union. Both court decisions and Buffalo’s legislative history grant it this authority. 

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Engaging the Future of Housing in the Buffalo-Niagara Region: A Preliminary Exploration of Challenges that Lie Ahead

Russell Weaver, Jason C. Knight — Oct 12, 2021

The following analyses and assessments of current socioeconomic and housing market conditions in Erie and Niagara counties are intended to support immediate programming efforts by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Western New York (LISC).

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Building a Safer Buffalo: Invest in Communities, Divest from Police

Colleen Kristich — May 6, 2021

Across the country, advocates are calling to cut police budgets in response to widespread misconduct made visible by videos of police killing unarmed civilians, disproportionately Black Americans, Indigenous people and people of color. Many attempts at police reform have failed to meaningfully change the harmful culture and practices of policing, and even with outsized public investment in law enforcement, public safety problems persist. Concerned residents and advocates call for reallocating …

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Co-op and crises: examining cooperative movements across the world, the US, and Buffalo, NY

Leanna Zilles — Dec 18, 2020

Buffalo has a rich history of cooperative businesses and movements, especially in the city's Black community. The Citizens Cooperative Society of Buffalo began in 1928 to address the ongoing economic and social crisis for Black Americans. It continued under various names, including the Buffalo Cooperative Economic Society, until 1961, and included a consumer-owned grocery store, a credit union, and an educational campaign.   

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Community Gardening: Case Studies and Recommendations for the Buffalo Community

Ashton O'Connor — Dec 16, 2020

Community garden networks have had varying degrees of success across the country. Even though community gardening can have a tremendous impact on local communities, health, food access, adjacent property values, and decreasing crime, they have yet to be seen as a legitimate land use by many city governments, including in Buffalo, New York. However, there are a variety of laws, policies, and strategies community organizations have implemented to support the practice of community gardening. This …

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Bolstering School Support during a Pandemic: Racial Equity and Trauma Informed Care Measures

Helen Zhou — Dec 8, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures have dramatically altered the lives of students, their families, school districts, and communities at large. This document will provide information on what schools, with a focus on Community Schools and Parent Centers, could look like through racial equity and trauma informed lenses and examine best practices for conducting a needs assessment particularly during times of duress. We will also define and focus on four scenarios, as presented by …

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Combatting Inequality in Workplace Structures: Worker Cooperatives and Employee Stock Ownership Programs in Buffalo-Niagara

Kristin (Szczepaniec) Ksiazek, Annabel Bacon — Dec 7, 2020

This report engages with present forms of ownership and power in the workplace, using Buffalo-Niagara as a case study. Its broader thrust is that current crises have placed our society at a critical juncture where we must question “business as usual” and begin charting a course to a new, more democratic economy. In short, we need business structures and policies designed to pull us out of crisis, drive us away from inequality, and carry us toward shared prosperity for all. The …

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Save Money, Save Lives: An Analysis of the Fiscal Impact of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act

Partnership for the Public Good — Nov 29, 2020

In New York State, a majority of state lawmakers support passage of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (S.1623/A.2500), to restrict the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails in line with international human rights standards. Several local legislatures have endorsed the bill, including the Erie County Legislature.

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Building “Next Generation” Democratic Workplaces to Reduce Inequality and Empower Workers: Evidence and Policy Implications from Buffalo-Niagara

Russell Weaver — Oct 28, 2020

Within the current political economic system, prevailing cultural norms and institutional infrastructure have forged a business climate that rewards self-interest, growth, and profit-maximization while essentially punishing “costly” actions that enhance the public good at the expense of the private bottom line. As such, entities that exhibit all of the NGE features listed above are extremely rare. And they are under constant threat of being swept away by competitive economic forces …

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Analysis of Predatory Lending in New York: From Origins to Interviews

Ryan Aguilar, Milena Saakyan — Aug 24, 2020

Certain legal procedures and policies have given headway for predatory lenders to become prominent and sustained. A short history, description of the New York circumstance, and analysis of CMG Services are delivered in this brief. Interviews of financial service providers were also conducted noting some of the effects of Covid-19 on predatory lending.

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CDFI Ecosystems and Alternate Forms of Lending

Milena Saakyan — Aug 24, 2020

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are entities whose main charge is delivering responsible and affordable lending for low income and other disadvantaged people. This brief explores what CDFIs look like across markets in Detroit, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester as well as noting lack of public awareness for these institutions. CDFIs both combat the harm done by predatory lenders and offer alternative lending solutions.

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Predatory Lenders: Avoiding Scams and Unethical Lending Practices

Ryan Aguilar — Aug 24, 2020

This informational document allows for greater knowledge of predatory lenders through identifying them and understanding their marketing techniques while additionally gaining advice on securing lending relationships from Community Development Financial Institutions.

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Evicted in Buffalo: the High Costs of Involuntary Mobility

Sam Magavern — Mar 4, 2020

Here in Buffalo, People United for Sustainable Housing Buffalo (PUSH Buffalo) has been on the front lines of organizing, advocacy, and neighborhood redevelopment for Buffalo’s tenants. Many of PUSH’s members have been harmed by involuntary mobility, and PUSH staff members such as Aminah Johnson have spent long hours advocating for tenants in Housing Court and helping them find and keep safe, decent, and affordable housing. We undertook this study for PUSH Buffalo to document

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Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting Activities in New York State

Alice Kreher — Feb 10, 2020

Lead poisoning prevention is an area of hope and opportunity: thousands of individuals could be betterpositioned for success – physically, mentally, and economically – if the right action is pursued. There isscientific, qualitative, and economic support for the RRP rule, and New York State enforcement couldprevent thousands of lead poisoning cases and generate long-term benefits, even without much net cost to the state budget. Ultimately, New York’s children deserve to be …

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Erasing Red Lines: Epilogue - Where Do We Go From Here?

Russell Weaver — Jan 29, 2020

While the Erasing Red Lines reports spoke of “distressed communities” and places experiencing “decline,” the core message—threaded through all three reports—is that patterns of “distress” and “decline” are products of a flawed and discriminatory political economic system. The formal act of mid-20th Century redlining was chosen to animate this core message because it is tangible and recognizable, and because its legacy is …

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Buffalo’s Outer Harbor: the Right Place for a World-Class Park

Sam Magavern — Sep 23, 2019

Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is a stunning natural area in a remarkable location. This report details the natural, historic, and recreational assets of the Outer Harbor and its connections to nearby parks and trails.

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Distinguishing the Social Sector: A Buffalo-Niagara Labor Market Study

Sam Magavern, Kristin (Szczepaniec) Ksiazek, Russell Weaver — Sep 19, 2019

The study focuses on the two largest parts of Buffalo-Niagara’s social sector: nonprofit and government employers. 

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The Climate Justice Movement in Western New York

Sam Magavern, Lynda Schneekloth — Jul 9, 2019

Although climate change requires an international response and will require national policies and actions, local geographies have to be involved because it that is where the harms are felt.  But how can local and regional areas respond to the climate crisis?  This article offers a story of the emergence of a climate justice movement in Buffalo and Western New York as an example of how one community is addressing climate change and its unequal impacts.

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Labor Takes the High Road: How Unions Make Western New York More Prosperous and Equitable

Sam Magavern, Lou Jean Fleron — Mar 8, 2019

The report explores how unions make a major impact on the region not just through collective bargaining, but also through community service and policy advocacy. Analyzing Census data, the authors find that union members in Western New York enjoy substantially higher wages, more full-time work, more health insurance coverage, and more pension benefits than non-members. Union impacts radiate out far beyond their members. Research reveals that unions improve wages, job quality, health, and safety, …

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Labor Takes the High Road: How Unions Make Western New York More Prosperous and Equitable Executive Summary

Sam Magavern, Lou Jean Fleron — Mar 8, 2019

The report explores how unions make a major impact on the region not just through collective bargaining, but also through community service and policy advocacy. Analyzing Census data, the authors find that union members in Western New York enjoy substantially higher wages, more full-time work, more health insurance coverage, and more pension benefits than non-members. Union impacts radiate out far beyond their members. Research reveals that unions improve wages, job quality, health, and safety, …

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Improving Teen Engagement in Buffalo and Erie County

Emily Bramhall, Hannah Sosenko, Sara Jablonski — Nov 13, 2018

This policy brief defines levels of youth engagement, considers why teens do not always participate in programs, highlights various teen-centered programs in Erie County, and shares details about programs that practice innovative teen engagement. It was created by Hannah Sosenko and Emily Bramhall, Cornell University High Road Fellows, and Sara Jablonski, Urban 4- H Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County.

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Just Transitions in School Food

Jessica Gilbert, Alexandra Schindel, Sarah A. Robert — Oct 18, 2018

This article examines the public school food system in Buffalo, New York, for a just transition (Movement Generation, n. d.). School food programs built on just transition characteristics democratize engagement, decentralize decisionmaking, diversify the economy, decrease consumption, and redistribute resources and power.

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Racial Disparities and Homelessness in Western New York

Homeless Alliance of Western New York — Oct 12, 2018

In this data analysis, Western New York is defined as Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans County because these are areas the Homeless Alliance of WNY coordinate services with and administer the data for. The Homeless Alliance of Western New York analyzed racial disparities among homelessness within Western New York and examined the homeless system’s equity serving different racial/ethnic groups in terms of receiving those services, prioritizing those services, and housing success …

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Voices for 2020: Ending Family Homelessness Summary Report

Homeless Alliance of Western New York, Diane Bessell — Oct 12, 2018

Voices for 2020 was undertaken at the request of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York with the expressed goal of developing a clearer picture of the physical, psychological, social, and resource needs of homeless families living in Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties. The project was developed in direct response to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness’s call to develop coordinated community responses to end homelessness among families with children …

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Voices for 2020: Strategies to Address Family Homelessness in WNY

Homeless Alliance of Western New York, Diane Bessell — Oct 12, 2018

Ending family homelessness will require a wide variety of community-based strategies to ensure that every member of each family experiencing homelessness is offered the services and supports they need to thrive. Following engagement with homeless families and health and human service providers; a review of the research literature and best practices in addressing the needs of homeless families; and completion of a local environmental scan, several strategies were identified for local action to …

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Women in Elected Office Challenges and Opportunities in Erie County

Erie County Commission on the Status of Women — Jul 26, 2018

"This report offers a snapshot of the political landscape in Erie County with a focus on women in elected office. Women comprise 52% of Erie County's total population , 49.5% of its labor force, and 53% of the county's registered voters. Women current comprise nearly 33% of elected government officials with men comprising nearly 68%." 

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Voting 101

Gayathri Jai — Jul 18, 2018

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Gown Towns: A Case Study of Say Yes to Education

Richard Reeves, Katherine Guyot, Edward Rodrigue — Jul 10, 2018

Postsecondary education is the entry ticket to the middle class. But for low-income Americans, college success is rare (Chapter 1). This report consists primarily of a case study of Say Yes to Education, based on interviews, site visits, focus groups, surveys, and empirical analysis (our methods are described in Chapter 2).

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Looking Toward the Future: A Review for Liftoff--Western New York Early Childhood Funders for Change

Public Sector Consultants — Jul 2, 2018

In 2017, Liftoff--Western New York Early Childhood Funders for Change--wanted to better understand how the region serves its youngest residents, how other communities structure systems to improve life and learning for young children and their families, and how stakeholders across the system could come together to affect change. Together with partners across Western Yew York (including Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Erie, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties), Liftoff engaged …

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A City Divided: A Brief History of Segregation in Buffalo

Anna Blatto — May 7, 2018

This policy report was drafted by Anna Blatto, a senior at the University at Buffalo. It explores the history of segregation in Buffalo and offers policy suggestions for the years ahead. 

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Erie County Commits to Paris: How Erie County Can Meet US Target Reductions For Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mark Poloncarz — May 7, 2018

“Erie County can take action to ensure its part in protecting the well-being and future of our planet by promulgating a plan to implement the United States target contribution plan to the Paris Agreement, as it pertains to Erie County, and to take such further action as it may by law to enforce the target contribution goals set by the United States within the bounds of the County of Erie, State of New York.”

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Cruelty and Cost: Money Bail in Buffalo

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Colleen Kristich — Apr 26, 2018

This policy report was drafted by Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Deputy Director at PPG, and Colleen Kristich, Master of Social Work Candidate at the University at Buffalo.It presents new data on bail in Buffalo, including frequency of money bail, average amounts by level and type of offense, and racial disparities. This dataset is based on PPG's observation of 240 arraignment hearings from November 2017 to February 2018.The report includes several stories from Buffalo City Court, …

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Good Food Purchasing for the Buffalo Public Schools

Jessica Gilbert — Apr 24, 2018

This policy report was drafted by Jessica Gilbert, research associate at PPG and PhD Candidate in the University at Buffalo’s Department of Geography.It provides an initial overview of the current status of school food at Buffalo Public Schools and many of the ongoing school food improvement initiatives. Framed within the Good Food Purchasing Program’s core values (local economies, nutrition, labor, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare), this report documents the …

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Workers on the Brink: Low-Wage Employment in Buffalo and Erie County

Nicole Hallett Apr 12, 2018

In 2017, Professor Hallett, winner of a public research fellowship from Open Buffalo and PPG, conducted a survey of 213 workers in Buffalo to learn more about the challenges they are facing. 

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Poverty in Buffalo: Causes, Impacts, Solutions

Orlando Dickson, Sam Magavern, Alyssa Bergsten, David Clayton, Chad Davenport, Melissa Kathan, Hayley Ross — Apr 10, 2018

Poverty in Buffalo-Niagara is concentrated in urban areas. It is segregated and racialized. One major cause of poverty is jobs that do not pay enough. Other major causes include disability, unaffordable housing, and lack of public transit access to quality jobs. Fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. launched the Poor People’s Campaign, the nation’s commitment to reducing poverty has rarely been weaker, and millions of people are suffering as a result. Poverty is not natural or …

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Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo's Most Vulnerable Citizens

Kent Gardner — Mar 29, 2018

This report provides a comprehensive assessment of lead poisoning data for community stakeholders, decision makers, and funders. The assessment was advised by the WNY Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning and informed by key staff from the City of Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspections and Corporation Counsel, the Erie County Department of Health, and interviews conducted with officials, tenants, landlords, homeowners, nonprofit staff, community leaders, and other stakeholders in Erie …

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Planning the City of Good (and New) Neighbours: Refugees' Experiences of the Food Environment in Buffalo, New York

Alexandra Judelsohn, Aye Bay Na Sa, Hijab Khan, Rosie Devito, Roberto O. Diaz Del Carpio, Isok Kim, Heather Orom, Samina Raja — Feb 8, 2018

The United States has resettled an average of 62,000 refugees per year over the pastdecade, one-quarter of whom originate from Burma. Although refugees from Burmasometimes migrate from places lacking food-related resources, their resettlement in theUnited States, where processed foods are abundant, may have unanticipated negativedietary and health consequences. Studies suggest that refugees decrease their intake offruit and vegetables after living in the United States for a certain length of …

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Executive Sessions Studied in Alphabetical Order by Municipality

Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government — Feb 1, 2018

This reports out on the executive sessions in municipalities in 2017. 

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"We're fighting for fairness!" The Struggle for a Fair Contract at Wendt Corporation

Patty Hughan, Nghia Nguyen — Jan 31, 2018

In June 2017, workers at Wendt Corporation's Buffalo, New York manufacturing shop overwhelmingly voted to join into a union and be represented by Ironworkers Shopmen's Local No 576. But workers say that the company has been dragging its heels and preventing them from getting a fair first contract. "Everyone that works here deserves fair pay, a safe workplace, equal treatment, and a little job security for ourselves and our families," one of these brave workers said.

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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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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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Higher Education’s Anchor Mission Measuring Place-Based Engagement

Democracy Collaborative, Emily Sladek — Nov 22, 2017

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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. 

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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, Thomas Pera, Ashley Pryce, Lucas Raley, Zach Small, Jessica Stevenson, Michelle Van Meter, Andrew Varuzzo, Olivia White, Vivian Zou, Joey Jiayun Zou, Jennifer Minner — Oct 25, 2017

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Behind Closed Doors, Executive Sessions and the Public's Right to Know

Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government — Oct 2, 2017

The Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government evaluated the Annual Financial Disclosure Forms utilized by ten municipalities in Erie and Niagara County. The Disclosure Forms were ranked from best to worst based on criteria we established. The ten municipalities reviewed were: Cheektowaga, Erie County, Buffalo, Town of Hamburg, Niagara Falls, Town of Lancaster, Amherst, Town of Tonawanda, Clarence, Niagara County.

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A Strategy for Prosperity: 2017 Progress Report Western NY

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council — Sep 30, 2017

This report on the progress of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNY REDC) Strategic Plan highlights what the organization is doing to create job opportunities and build a quality of life. They describe how by working hand-and-hand with New York State (NYS), our regionhas been successful in moving the needle on economic indicators and investment confidenceby advancing local strategies that directly align with NYS’s core strategies for …

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Initiatives for a Smart Economy 2.0

Mark Poloncarz — Jun 30, 2017

Just like its predecessor, I4SE 2.0 is organized in a manner that focuses on those sectors of the local economy identified by WNYREDC as growth sectors. It identifies initiatives within those sectors where ErieCounty can make a meaningful contribution. These sectors include: advanced manufacturing, smart growth implementation, workforce development, agriculture, bi-national logistics, energy, and tourism.The report also identifies specific initiatives that Erie County will undertake in other …

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PUSH Buffalo's Green Development Zone: a Model for New Economy Community Development

Sam Magavern, Skye Hart — Jun 29, 2017

2008 marks the year that PUSH Buffalo founded the Green Development Zone in Buffalo’s West Side. Encompassing 25 square blocks, the Green Development Zone (GDZ) is an area that PUSH is making more environmentally and economically sustainable. PUSH stands for People United for Sustainable Housing, and it is a non-profit corporation that uses a unique combination of community organizing, policy advocacy, and neighborhood redevelopment.  

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Freedom of Information Law Report 2017

Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government — May 17, 2017

The Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government evaluated the response of a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to sixteen municipalities in Erie and Niagara County.

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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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"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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Buffalo Niagara's Strategic Plan for Prosperity, Buffalo Billion

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council — Jan 31, 2017

The Buffalo Billion Phase II plan looks back at the extraordinary strides Buffalo Niagara has made since2011. It describes the progress and impacts of Buffalo Billion Phase I investments; and using economicindicators, points to areas where we’ve seen progress and where there are still opportunities for growth.It gives a compelling account of why we need to continue to invest in the economic enablers and coresector strategies that we as a community developed. And, based on this momentum …

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Building the Blue Economy

Sam Magavern, Jen Kaminsky, Sarah Maurer — Dec 31, 2016

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Collaboration, Communication and Community-Building

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

Buffalo Inclusionary Housing Coalition, Skye Hart, Victoria Neenan — 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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Access to Justice in Buffalo and Beyond: Making the Justice System More Welcoming for Refugees

Fidèle Menavanza — Jun 23, 2016

As an essential human right, much has been written about access to justice. Still, too many poor people lack this essential access all over the world when they face major life challenges. The issue confronts people experiencing poverty around the globe, as well as close to home. Access to justice for the most vulnerable is as encompassing as our country is diverse, affecting all races, ethnic groups, and ages. Victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, homeowners facing …

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

Anthony Hilbert 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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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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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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Greening the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Sam Magavern 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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One Region Forward A New Way To Plan For Buffalo Niagara

University at Buffalo Regional Institute — Jul 20, 2015

This document represents the culmination of three years of research, community engagement, partnership building and planning under the banner of One Region Forward. Within the pages of this plan, you will find the major research findings of what the data tells us about where the region is today and expressions of thousands of citizen voices on the direction people in the region want to see Buffalo Niagara go. Proposed strategies and actions, built by a team of 100+ subject matter experts, are …

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Traffic Equity in Buffalo, New York

Sam Magavern, Daniel Cadzow — 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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Better Choices for Buffalo's Students: Expanding & Reforming the Criteria Schools System

Jongyeon Ee, Erica Frankenberg, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Natasha Amlani, Jennifer Ayscue, Gary Orfield, Brian Woodward — 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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Initiatives for a Stronger Community

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 31, 2015

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Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Western New York

Li Yin, Kelly Patterson, Robert Silverman 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

J.A. Dewald 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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Talking Proud: Telling Buffalo's Stories

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

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

Sam Magavern, Aaron Bartley, Daniel Kelly, Anthony Armstrong — 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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Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, Perry Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority — Jul 26, 2013

Project Name: Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority - Perry Choice Neighborhood Transformation Project The Perry Choice Neighborhood Planning grant (PCN) produced a plan that transforms the BMHAPCN into a viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhood that functions as a platform which enables residents to become economically secure and self-sufficient, to realize their full potential and to develop the critical consciousness and capacity that empowers them to guide 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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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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2013 Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Erie County

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

Catholic Care for Creation Committee of Buffalo 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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Business Development in the Perry Choice Neighborhood

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2012

This study provides an analysis of the number, composition, and types of businesses found in the Perry Choice Neighborhood. Understanding the dynamics and nature of the businesses the Perry Choice Neighborhood (PCN) is essential to building a vibrant community and forging a transformative plan (Map 1). Understanding the PCN business landscape is critical to formulating an neighborhood economic development strategy that will generate jobs and opportunities for the residents and that will provide …

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Establishment of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Section 3 Business Development and Employee Training Center: A Concept Paper

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2012

Project Name: Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority - Perry Choice Neighborhood Transformation Project This concept paper outlines a strategy to use the HUD Section 3 Act to “capture” business development and employment opportunities to empower and produce economic self-sufficiency among public housing residents and other very low- and very-low income groups and to use these resources to transform their neighborhoods into great places to live, work and raise a family.

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

Timothy Moriarty 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!

Timothy Moriarty 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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2012 Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in Erie County

Open Buffalo, Partnership for the Public Good, PUSH Buffalo, VOICE Buffalo, Coalition for Economic Justice 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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Community Reinvestment Act Advocacy

Bradford Reid — Dec 31, 2011

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.  

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

Robert Grimaldi 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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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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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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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

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

Changxing Ma, Pavan Yadav, Li Yin, James Roemmich, Leonard Epstein, Alex Ticoalu, Samina Raja — 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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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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Individuals Below the Poverty Level

Sam Magavern, Partnership for the Public Good Dec 31, 2009

Census Tracts in the City of Buffalo.

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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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The “Community as Classroom Initiative:” The Case of Futures Academy in Buffalo, New York

Linda McGlynn, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2009

Project Name: Futures Academy Community & Creative Placemaking Initiative This paper examines the efforts of the UB Center for Urban Studies to build a university assisted community school centered neighborhood development initiative in the Fruit Belt, a distresses community in Buffalo, New York. The goal is to turn Futures Academy (School 37), a traditional Pre- K through 8th grade public school into a university-assisted community school that drives the neighborhood regeneration process …

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The Connection: Schooling, Youth Development, and Community Building– The Futures Academy Case

Linda McGlynn, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2009

Using, as an example, a case study of Futures Academy, a K-8th grade public school in the Fruit Belt, an inner city neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, this essay will demonstrate that universities can play a leading role in remediating the problems of public schooling, youth development and inner city distress. Through the development of authentic, democratically-based partnerships among universities, schools, and communities, young people in distressed neighborhoods can become successful …

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The Futures Academy Community Garden Project

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2009

Project Name: Futures Academy Community & Creative Placemaking Initiative This report proposes the creation of the Futures Academy Community Garden in a series of vacant, city-owned parcels across from Buffalo Public School 37.

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The Historical Overview of Blacks in the Fruit Belt: The Continuing Struggle to Build a Vibrant Community

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2009

Project Name: The Fruit belt Redevelopment Project This report provides and overview of the history of blacks in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt and the classic tale of how urban policies have destabilized the African American community and robbed low to moderate‐income blacks of the wealth producing power of home-ownership.

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

Carrie Weremblewski 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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City of Buffalo vs. ABN Amro Mortgage

Elena Steigman Mar 31, 2009

Overview of submitted court documentation of a case in Buffalo pertaining to vacant properties within the city limits. 

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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, Daniel Webster, Anthony Armstrong — 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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Labor Unions and Coalitions in Buffalo

Heather Anderson — Dec 8, 2008

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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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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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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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

Mark Poloncarz 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

Sam Magavern 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

Sam Magavern 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

Changxing Ma, Pavan Yadav, Samina Raja — 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 Geography of Urban Poverty

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

Partnership for the Public Good — Dec 31, 2007

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

Joseph Schilling, Lisa Schamess, Jonathan Logan — Dec 31, 2007

Regional strategies and local tools for reclaiming vacant properties in the city and suburbs of Buffalo.  

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Poverty and Buffalo: Beyond the Headlines

Wende A. Mix — Dec 31, 2007

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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Local Taxes in New York State: Easing the Burden

Wende A. Mix 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

Robert Quinn 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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Brown to Green: Building a 21st Century Sustainable Community, A Strategic Plan for Regeneration of the Highland Avenue Community

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2007

This proposal outlines a regeneration strategy for Niagara Falls’ Highland Avenue Community. The goal is to develop a strategic plan that identifies five priority projects that will function as catalysts that will spawn the community’s rebirth.

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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

Niagara River Greenway Commission 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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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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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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Overview of Municipal Vacant Building Registries

Unknown — Dec 31, 2006

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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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 — Dec 31, 2006

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

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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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Understanding Residents Concerns Over the St. John Town House Initiative

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Oct 31, 2006

Project Name: The Fruit Belt Redevelopment Project This report presents finding from four focus group meetings on resident’s concerns about the St. John Church Town House Initiative in Buffalo, NY.

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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

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara 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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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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The High Cost of Being Poor

Rod Watson, Jonathan Epstein, Brian Meyer — Jun 21, 2006

A FOUR-PART SERIES REPRINTED FROM JUNE 18-21, 2006.  In November 2005, about half-a-dozen Buffalo News reporters and editors sat in a circle and began brainstorming story ideas. As part of a two-day training session conducted by the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the News staffers were looking for story ideas that would be worth an extended investment of time and resources. Jonathan Epstein, a News financial reporter who specializes in banking and insurance issues, suggested it might …

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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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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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From Theory to Practice: The Quest to Radically Reconstruct Buffalo's Inner City Neighborhoods

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2004

Project Name: The Inner City Transformation Project The Inner City Transformation Project (ICTP) was launched in 2001 to develop a model of community development that can be applied to the radical reconstruction of distressed neighborhoods in metropolitan Buffalo and similar size cities in the United States. The project is based on the assumption that distressed urban neighborhoods now represent the epicenter of racism and social class inequality in the United States and that the quest to …

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Fruit Belt/Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Tax Increment Financing District

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Sam Cole, Richard Milgrom, Samina Raja, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2004

The Municipal Redevelopment Law entitles municipalities (individually or as joint undertakings) to issue tax increment bonds that are payable from and secured by real property taxes. This proposal seeks to establish a TIF (Tax Increment Finance) district for this the Fruit Belt and the adjacent Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

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The Fillmore Avenue Commercial Redevelopment Plan

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Antoine Thompson, Sam Cole, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2004

Project Name:  The Fillmore Avenue Commercial Redevelopment Project The Fillmore Avenue Commercial Redevelopment Plan provides a vision for the Fillmore Avenue commercial corridor that is one of a vibrant, thriving passageway that serves as the cultural commons for the Martin Luther King, Jr. neighborhood and a Gateway to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. The Fillmore commercial corridor will be a symbol of the vibrancy of King’s Dream and a place that brings people together from …

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The Masten District Neighborhood Plan

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Antoine Thompson — Jul 26, 2004

A Strategy for Redeveloping the Masten District and Transforming it into a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.

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

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Antoine Thompson 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

Rolf Pendall, Matthew Drennan, Susan Christopherson 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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Fruit Belt Redevelopment Plan Preliminary Study

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2002

This study follows two earlier works published by the Center for Urban Studies, The Turning Point: A Strategic Plan of Action for the Fruitbelt/Medical Corridor (March 27, 2001) and Fruit Belt/Medical Corridor Tax Increment Financing District (February 12, 2002). The original report argued that better social, economic and physical connections could be established between the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), a wealth generating district within the city, and the adjacent Fruit Belt …

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Futures Academy: The Case for Maintaining its Magnet / Residence School Status

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Richard Milgrom — Jul 26, 2002

The report makes the case for maintaining Buffalo Public School 37, Futures Academy, as a Magnet/Residence School. The retention of the school’s current status is one of the keys to successfully rebuilding the Fruit Belt/Medical Campus neighborhood. A strong pre-K through Eighth Grade elementary magnet/residential school is central to attracting new residents to the community.

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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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Development of A Turning Point Scenario: A Strategic Plan and Action Agenda for the Fruitbelt / Medical Corridor

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Nov 30, 2001

Project Name: The Fruit Belt Redevelopment Project This report is a strategic plan and action agenda that guides the restoration of Buffalo’s Fruitbelt Neighborhood and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). The plan and agenda constructs a framework to guide restoration, identifies potential sources of revenue and formulates an implementation strategy.

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural District & Cultural Corridor: A Strategic Plan and Action Agenda For the Masten District

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2001

The purpose of this report is to develop a strategic plan and action agenda for Buffalo’s Masten District, which is based on the turning point threshold concept. Every neighborhood has a turning point threshold, which is that point where a snowballing effect takes place that transform the neighborhood when investments rise above it. The ultimate goal of this project is to outline a plan, which if successfully implemented, will push the Masten District beyond the …

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Fundamental Shifts Have Altered the Role of Local Governments

James Magavern — Jan 30, 2001

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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The Health Status of the Near East Side Black Community: A Study of the Wellness and Neighborhood Conditions Buffalo, New York

Center for Urban Studies, UB, The Black Leadership Forum, UB Center for Research in Primary Care — Jul 26, 2000

The purpose of this study is to gain insight into black community wellness by examining a number of health, social, economic, cultural, and lifestyle issues that affect the health status of Buffalo’s Near East Side black community.

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The Historical Roots of the Crisis in Housing Affordability: The Case of Buffalo, New York

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2000

During the thirty-year period between 1920 and 1950, urban leaders laid the theoretical, organizational, institutional and policy groundwork needed for the construction of this new American metropolis, which they built during the 1950s and 1960s. The creation of this metropolis gave birth to the contemporary crisis in housing affordability. Within this context, housing affordability and fair housing became intertwined issues because the growing economic rationalization of urban space and …

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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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Governance in Erie County: A Foundation for Understanding and Action

Kathryn Foster, David C. Perry, Alfred D. Price, John B. Sheffer, II, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jan 26, 1996

Project Name: The University at Buffalo Governance Project The University at Buffalo Governance Project was an interdisciplinary research effort to study governance issues in Erie County. The Governance Project was founded upon the premise that a vigorous region requires competent, informed decision making, especially in the public sector.

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

Lou Jean Fleron, Lois Gray 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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Buffalo Housing Court Act

Lou Jean Fleron, Lois Gray Jul 21, 1978

Excerpt from City Court of Buffalo. 

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