The west side of Buffalo, NY has had a bad reputation for a long time now, but it hasn’t always been that way. Many years ago the area known as the west side was a popular and extravagant place to live. Through years of economic hardships however, the west side took a wrong turn somewhere. It is now viewed by many people as “a lost cause. ” The crime rates have skyrocketed and the standard of living has plummeted. Gangs are a huge issue in the west side of Buffalo because the gang members scare and intimidate the residents of nearby homes.
People are not reporting major crimes because they are scared that they will get hurt because of it. The tenth street gang has been known of by authorities for a long time, but they cannot be caught because nobody is willing to testify against them as a witness. So, people are getting robbed, harassed and shot everyday and nothing is being done about it. The West Side Community Collaborative, or WSCC, is an agency that is based off of the idea that you can’t come up with an amazing plan and expect it to happen on its own.
You have to do it yourself! When other people see the good things that are coming from your work, they will want to be a part of it. WSCC uses it’s intertwined group of organizations and community residents to pursue a common goal to revitalize one of Buffalo’s most troubled areas: the west side. Starting with streets closest to more highly valued neighborhoods, like the Elmwood District, the first step is to beautify the neighborhoods. The insightful leader of this organization, Harvey Garrett, organizes “block clubs” to begin the beautification.
A block club is a group of people living on a street that combine their efforts to improve their living conditions. After Garrett gets the block clubs started, they often take off on their own, upon learning what it is possible to accomplish. The block clubs begin by taking care of the vacant houses on the street. Because vacant houses are a common place for drug dealers to hangout, a sudden show of interest in the house will usually scare them away. Once the house is painted and looks presentable again, it can be sold much more easily than an ugly broken-down house.
This effort alone can turn a street around by raising the property values, and inviting nice people to come and live there. Along with beautification efforts, WSCC has helped landlords to evict any tenants that may be damaging the neighborhood, and help the landlords to find more responsible tenants. If the landlord is sure that they are going to get a rent payment from the tenants every month, they will put more effort into keeping the building nice. Also, WSCC has combined efforts with the County Attorney’s Office to follow through on arrests, and getting dangerous people off the streets for good.
Some of the organizations working in cooperation with WSCC are The Massachusetts Avenue Project and PUSH Buffalo. The Massachusetts Avenue Project, or MAP, is an organization that strives to nurture the growth of a diverse and equitable community food system to promote local economic opportunities, access to affordable and nutritious food, and social-change education. MAP connects the youth of Buffalo to their community and environment by providing them with meaningful employment opportunities and leadership skills.
The members of PUSH Buffalo are the community organizers that provide affordable housing in Buffalo. Their mission is to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing, to expand local hiring opportunities and advance economic justice in Buffalo. The efforts of WSCC, MAP, and PUSH Buffalo have created a movement that is quickly rewriting the reputation of the west side of Buffalo. The people that live there feel safe and comfortable again. The West Side Community Collaborative is an organization that deserves much respect.
It has drastically reduced the crime rate on the streets of the west side, making it a much more welcoming place to live. I believe the most fascinating aspect of the WSCC, is that the renovated houses are often sold far below their new market value. This allows low income families to purchase a home that they can feel safe in, and potentially live in forever. As the families slowly continue to renovate the homes, the value goes up and the family ends up owning a house that they could sell for three times what they bought for if they wanted to.
This is something that has never been done before, yet it is working so well! As more people invest in the cheap houses, even more people want a house of their own. The west side is quickly becoming the hot spot to be in Buffalo.
Works Cited “Alleged Tenth Street Gang Member Arrested. ” The Buffalo News 29 Sept. 2010: n. pag. Web. 3 Oct. 2010. <http://www. buffalonews. com/? city/? communities/? west-side/? article204855. ece>. Buffalo Rising. “West Side Rising. ” Buffalo Rising. N. p. , 2010. Web. 3 Oct. 2010. <http://www. buffalorising. com/? 2008/? 12/? west-side-rising. html>. Herbeck, Dan. “Arrests Target Gang On West Side. ” The Buffalo News 23 Sept. 2010: n. pag. Web. 3 Oct. 2010. <http://www. buffalonews. com/? city/? article198419. ece>. Local Initiatives Support Corporation. “2004 MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards. ” Local Initiatives Support Corporation: Helping Neighbors Build Communities. Local Initiatives Support Corp. , 18 July 2005. Web. Oct. 2010. <http://www. lisc. org/? content/? publications/? detail/? 864>. Picard, Diane, dir. “Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP): Building the local community through food, urban farming and entrepreneurship” Massachusetts Avenue Project and Growing Green. N. p. , 2010. Web. 3 Oct. 2010. <http://www. mass-ave. org/? index. htm>. “PUSH Buffalo: Our Vision. ” PUSH Buffalo: People United For Sustainable Housing. N. p. , 2010. Web. 3 Oct. 2010. <http://www. pushbuffalo. org/>.