JAMESTOWN – About 20 people were on hand Thursday night at the Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center to hear from a representative from People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo.
Jennifer Kaminsky was on hand to lead a discussion about her organization and several of the programs and projects it has undertaken during the past decade to help redevelop and renovate more than 100 different homes on Buffalo’s west side – many of which are multi-family dwellings.
Kaminsky explained that many of the projects focus on using green energy resources, including geo-thermal heating options as well as solar panels. She also talked about how funding for the projects is secured – explaining that much of the money comes from state grants, foundation support, as well as from donations from the general public.
And she also talked about a workforce development program used by PUSH Buffalo that involves having members of the community who have been incarcerated working on the projects so that they can develop job skills.
She explained the overall goal of PUSH Buffalo is to renovate the homes and then rent them out at affordable rates for low-to-middle income residents.
Some highlights for the organization since first being established in 2005 include:
- $19 million invested in green affordable housing, green infrastructure and stormwater management in the Green Development Zone;
- More than 500 homes transformed through weatherization or complete green retrofit;
- Over 60 green jobs created and over 200 workers training programs;
- More than $90 million new investment in weatherization across the state;
- Housing police focused on rehabilitation of vacant structures and neighborhood revitalization;
- Approximately 200 metric tones of CO2 reduced on an annual basis.
The presentation was provided in order to see if there were programs from PUSH Buffalo that may also be utilized in Jamestown. Jamestown City Council member and housing committee chair Marie Carrubba attended the presentation and said that there were some interesting ideas put forward, but she also acknowledged that some of the things PUSH Buffalo has done may not be able to be replicated in a small city like Jamestown.
“I think the collaborative effort and the extent of the funding pools they’ve able to draw – some of them may be available to Jamestown but I don’t think all of them are, because of the size of the city,” Karuba said. “As pointed out there are some programs that are funded for larger communities but may not be available for cities of our size. That’s one of the things I think we’ll have to look at is the specific funding sources that they were using, are they available for our community.”
Karuba did say the she was interested in the workforce development component of PUSH Buffalo, saying that it may be something an organization in Jamestown might be able to emulate. She also said there are also a couple of organizations in town that provide similar services, including CODE Inc. and STEL (Southern Tier Environments for Living, Inc.).
Others in attendance for the meeting included Jamestown city councilman Brent Sheldon and city planning director Vince DeJoy – along with a number of local stakeholders and community members.
Kaminsky’s presentation was presented by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation’s Neighborhood Alliance.