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PUSH wins grant for green rehab

People United for Sustainable Housing has been awarded $1.87 million to rehabilitate 11 apartments in three vacant buildings on the West Side using green designs.

The focus on energy conservation and affordability helped secure $1.47 million from the state Department of Housing and Community Renewal, and $400,000 from the City of Buffalo. The two- to four-bedroom apartments, at 397, 398 and 460 Massachusetts Ave., will be among properties on several square blocks to also feature community gardens and sustainable projects created by the Massachusetts Avenue Project.

"These buildings themselves will set a new standard for green, affordable housing in Buffalo," said Aaron Bartley, PUSH Buffalo's executive director. "We will have extensive solar electricity on two of the three buildings, and cutting-edge heating systems to reduce utility bills and carbon emissions."

Bartley said he is hopeful the project will become "a national model of neighborhood-based green development."

The strategic alliance between PUSH Buffalo and Mayor Byron W. Brown's administration for the project stands in contrast to their relationship in the past, when the activist organization frequently took the mayor to task for not doing more to address the city's abandoned housing.

"The City of Buffalo is excited to partner with PUSH in this project, and we look forward to breaking ground on the construction sites," Brown said in a statement. "We are committed to achieving our joint goal of 100 rehabs a year."

Michael Clarke, executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corp., which has provided PUSH with financing and grant support, expressed excitement over the project.

"This project, and the support PUSH is receiving from key public and private organizations, shows what can happen when neighborhood development leaders dedicate themselves to working in a very community-engaged and planned way," he said.

"PUSH is organizing and rebuilding this neighborhood as a sustainable community, one that is dedicated to preservation, energy-conscious and affordable housing rehabilitation, and the productive reuse of vacant property."

A similar project was approved in June on the West Side. Heart of the City Neighborhoods received a $1.5 million award from New York's Housing Trust Fund Corp. to build eight units of green, affordable housing in two townhouse-style buildings at 294 and 302 Hudson St.

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com

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