Green Housing: In Buffalo, It’s Not Just For Rich People Anymore

The following summary and excerpt are from Abundant Community’s article Green Housing: It’s Not Just For Rich People Anymore by Mark Andrew Boyer posted on April 9, 2013 Click here to read the Full Article


The Buffalo, NY was experiencing some big problems. Being part of the “rust belt, ” Buffalo did not have many available jobs. According to the census, the population of Buffalo has dropped by more than half in the past 60 years. Houses were vacant and “left to rot.” Why was nothing being done with these houses? The problem:

With a bit of digging, they discovered that a sub-agency of the New York State Housing Finance Agency was in control of nearly 1,500 tax-delinquent properties in the city—about 200 of which were on the West Side—that were being left to rot. In 2003, the state of New York’s Municipal Bond Bank Agency bought the delinquent tax liens for those homes, which were then bundled and sold as bonds to investment bank Bear Stearns.

But there was one major problem: According to a report published in Artvoice, Buffalo’s main alternative weekly, the assessed value of the properties was much higher than they were actually worth. In effect, the state was using vacant houses in Buffalo to speculate on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, nothing was happening with the houses; the state was neither maintaining them nor selling them. ‘There just was absolutely no due diligence done as part of the transaction,’ Bartley said. “If there had been, they would’ve seen that bond was fraudulent.”

What a terrible situation! This rather disturbing scenario was entirely turned around for good. Awareness was raised, in part through several creative acts of vandalism, new jobs created for fixing up these houses, and what was once rotting house were turned into green housing. All it took was a little PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing).

Click here to read the Full Article

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