Sustainable Development Models for Housing and Food Production in Buffalo, NY

Authors: Cheryl Derricotte, AICP | Deputy Director, Strategic Growth The city of Buffalo has faced significant economic challenges in the 21st century. In July 2003, at the climax of a fiscal crisis, the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority was established to oversee the finances of the city. Two years later, Erie County, where Buffalo resides, was assigned a Fiscal Stability Authority on July 2005. A recent Schott Foundation study reports that Buffalo's black males have a 31% high school graduation rate and white males have a 51% graduation rate—both dismal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 7.6% unemployment rate as of April 2011. Yet two local nonprofits—People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) and the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP)—are using green economy solutions to overcome some of the city's challenges. Buffalo's "Green Development Zone" where these two nonprofits work, won the Changemaker's International Sustainable Urban Housing Competition sponsored by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of State and the American Planning Association. PUSH teaches green construction skills to unemployed and underemployed workers in Buffalo which results in high-road jobs working on PUSH's energy efficient affordable housing projects. The organization recently developed a model "netzero" house. This home actually produces more energy than it uses! MAP's part-time employment program in organic farming for low-income youth has resulted in 100% graduation rates for the high school students they have worked with to date. The organization's new aquaponics project sits on one vacant city lot. This greenhouse enclosed "pond" will yield 50,000lbs of food annually (tilapia fish and organic produce) to a "food desert" on the West Side of Buffalo. Green for All believes that PUSH and MAP provide lessons for replication throughout the US. Their models hone in on the creating the fabric of neighborhood life: energy efficient affordable housing, career pathways out of poverty and access to healthy food. For more information on these groups, visit their websites:

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