Buffalo’s East Side was the site of a celebration on Monday morning for Habitat for Humanity. The organization began construction on its 300th home in the city as a part of the “Bailey Green Initiative”.
The construction of the new home is at 42 Wende Street, one block west of Bailey Avenue. The initiative by Habitat for Humanity Buffalo is to focus on four blocks in that area.
“Last year we built five houses,” Ron Talboys, Co-Founder and Former President of Habitat for Humanity, said. “We’re building two more on the East Side this year and we have two sites on the West Side we have to finish up. We will be back out here in 2018 and 2019 and keep on building out this area.”
Talboys explained that one-third of the homes are new while the remaining are renovations of old, worn down homes. During the week, he explained there are anywhere from 10-to-20 volunteers working on a site. During the weekends, there were as many as 50 volunteers.
Some of the volunteers are using “sweat equity” for an opportunity to become a homeowner.
“We serve anyone between the 30% and 60% median income in Buffalo,” Teresa Bianchi, Executive Director of Habitat, said. “All families are welcome to apply and as long as you’re willing to work – because you have to volunteer 500 hours – helping other people build their houses and then building your house. Then you pay back 0% interest mortgage which we help with grants to get it to a level that’s affordable. We’re here for whoever needs us.”
Valu Home Center and its President and CEO Michael Ervolina, Jr. partnered with Habitat for the 300th home which will be honored in the company’s name. The two organizations have worked together for 25 years and Valu Home Center gave $3.5 million since the beginning of its partnership. The company also supplies materials and labor hours.
In the end, the new homes are changing lives.
“We have families that are living in a two-bedroom apartment when they may have four or five kids,” Bianchi explained. “We have families that are sleeping on other people’s couches because they don’t have their own house. When you take a kid and put them in a stable environment where they know they will get off the school bus and go into their home and go into their bed at night and wake up in the same bed. That stability makes a remarkable progress on their education.”
Bianchi also explained that the rehabilitation of some homes can help the elderly in the community by weatherization, repairs, and the installation of handicap-accessible ramps.
The 300th home is expected to be completed in late fall.
- Story by Mike Baggerman of WBEN