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Editorial: Home repair squad, lead-line program lift spirits in Buffalo

Two valuable projects that stand to improve public health and living standards recently got under way in Buffalo. Both could have long-term effects.

Recently launched in the City of Buffalo’s University District, volunteers from Eight Days of Hope provided free home repairs for 100 families in need. It’s called the Eight Days of Hope because 1,500 volunteers from 32 states arrived in Buffalo on a recent Friday and set out to serve the families over eight days.

Repair work included painting, roofing, landscaping and gutter work, according to Steve Tybor, president and chief executive officer of the faith-based, nonprofit organization. For someone with a long list of home improvement needs but little money, the program is heaven sent.

The nonprofit organization opened a satellite office last year in Buffalo, and organizers indicated plans to conduct the eight-day outreach in all nine City Council districts each year, one at a time. As University Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt stated, many residents need help but do not qualify for grants. This program should help close the financial gap.

Homeowners also might want to look into a pilot program called ROLL – Replacing Old Lead Lines, supported by various arms of government. The work is funded through $567,000 from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s water line replacement initiative. In addition, State Sen. Christopher L. Jacobs, R-Buffalo, delivered a $155,000 grant, while the Department of Environmental Conservation provided $100,000. The plan is to replace up to 200 residential lead water service lines with new lines made of copper.

Mayor Byron W. Brown has said he intends to make this a permanent project and, given the dire consequences of lead poisoning, it should be. He promises that his administration is working on making the program a fixture and that, “Full water line replacement is now a key component, multifaceted effort to battle the effects of lead in the City of Buffalo’s aging infrastructure.”

Oluwole “OJ” McFoy, chairman of the Buffalo Water Board, said damaged service lines are “normally indicated either by pooling water around your home or very, very low pressure throughout your systems.”

Residents who suspect they have a broken or leaking water service line should call the Buffalo Water Authority at 847-1065, ext. 146.

Combined efforts by nonprofits, government and community will make a difference in tackling some of the most pervasive problems of poverty.

This work is not only important, but essential.

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