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Let's create pathway so all can own home

When I moved to Buffalo in 2010, I bought a house on the East Side. I paid $40,000 for my home, and many have paid even less. Several of the rental properties on my block were purchased by out-of-town landlords for less than $20,000, and it shows. Owner-occupied homes are better cared for and beautify the neighborhood.

For me, the decision to purchase was simple economics: my mortgage costs less than rent would have cost for something comparable, and I get more space and flexibility. For many, home ownership can be a critical step in escaping the cycle of poverty and building wealth.

It's not uncommon for ownership to cost much less than renting in Buffalo. Livable homes routinely sell for $30,000 or less, while distressed properties are practically free. The Census Bureau estimates the median rent in Buffalo is $633, higher than a typical East Side mortgage. Yet less than half of the homes in Buffalo are owner-occupied. Most homeowners spend less than 30 percent of their income on housing, while more than half of renters pay more than 30 percent of their income to rent. Stable housing is one of many factors that improves outcomes for people in poverty, and here in Buffalo there is no excuse not to move more renters into home ownership.

The city's recent partnership with Saint John Baptist Church to develop new rental properties suggests that City Hall is out of touch. Habitat for Humanity and other groups are actively working to create pathways to home ownership. But the problem is too big to leave entirely to the efforts of a few small groups. We don't need more rentals. We need a pathway to ownership that everyone can access.

James Ratchford



Ryan budget flies in face of Catholic teachings

Rep. Paul Ryan, a Catholic and author of the budget passed by the Republican-controlled House, assures us that the aid cuts it makes to the poor are in line with Catholic teachings. If this is the case, Matthew 25 should be removed from our Bibles, as well as the encyclicals of Leo XIII, Pius XI and John XXIII. Everything that I learned during my 17 years of education by Sisters of St. Joseph, Christian Brothers and Jesuits is to be ignored. In addition, contributions to Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services and dozens of similar organization must be misguided.

However, I can't help but feel that the recent statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the letter to Ryan from almost 90 members of the Georgetown University faculty accusing him of misusing the Catholic faith while reflecting the values of Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ, are much closer to the truth.

Ted Fisher



Discrimination likely to continue for years

As a parent of two biracial children, both of whom attend Sweet Home schools, I keep an open mind on various points of view involving race. The girls lacrosse debate on is just a small example of how racially divided the Buffalo area really is.

People who feel the need to put their theories on the comment board are products of how racism and bigotry are bred at home. There were multiple comments justifying the spewing of the N-word. A few stated, "They say it in their rap songs" or in the "heat of the moment." I also read a comment how the Clarence team was nothing more than "spoiled little Caucasian girls." How do these people function daily with such distorted views? One comment comparing this incident to the Duke scandal is not only inflating the severity of the incident, but also disturbing.

Ignorance is never OK. It's widely apparent that no matter where children are raised, ethnically diverse or not, racial epithets toward an opponent aren't warranted. After reading the comments, it's no wonder that race and status are more important than a person's character and integrity. There are many lessons to be learned here. Unfortunately, if the people providing comments are in the majority, it will be a vicious cycle of discrimination for years to come.

Nicole Celotto

Town of Tonawanda


Dow is poor indicator of economy's strength

I must take issue with the recent letter by a gentleman who equated the economy with the Dow index. He stated that under a Democratic administration, the Dow was 13,000; up from 6,900 during a Republican administration.

Any economist worth his salt will say that the Dow is not a measure of how good or bad the economy is. Rather, unemployment, inflation and the GDP are more valid indicators.

If his thesis is true, how do we explain that in 1945 the Dow was 495? I believe the Democrats were in control at that time.

Larry DeAeth



High-stakes testing hurts pupils, teachers

Kudos to Donn Esmonde on his column regarding the closing of Pinnacle Charter School. As a retired Buffalo Public School teacher, I am appalled at what is happening in our community. Closing a charter school that was trying hard to meet the needs of poor students because of testing is a destructive decision. Why not offer assistance instead? Then the threat to withhold millions from poor performing Buffalo schools is another facet of Albany's hard-hearted policies. It punishes schools that need the most assistance. It seems as helpful as throwing debtors into prison in Victorian England.

As an instructor in English Education at Buffalo State College, I did a great deal of reading on best practices in schools. In that work and in my research for my doctorate at the University at Buffalo, I found no support for high-stakes testing. In addition, I have many retired educator friends who know from their research and from their experience that what is happening is inimical to students in our city. Using testing as a cudgel to beat teachers and students hurts all.

It is so distressing that local groups like the Buffalo Teachers Federation and parent advocates seem to be blaming each other. I wonder if there is a way we can come together as a community to be a voice for change in the halls of power. It seems the only ones who benefit from widespread testing are the educational testing companies that are growing fat off the backs of our children.

Linda Drajem



No wonder this region has trouble progressing

I just read the letter from Hamburg implying the Seneca Indians are in violation of their contract with New York and should not be trusted. Another example of someone who is really paying attention. Does anyone really wonder why Buffalo has such a problem moving forward?

Earl Barto

Grand Island