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Canisius completes return of 10 homes to private ownership

Canisius College has completed its effort to renovate and return college-owned homes to private ownership in the neighborhood surrounding the school's Buffalo campus, as the last of 10 homes that it purchased for rehab and resale is now on the market.

The school started its Hamlin Park Initiative in 2010 under President John J. Hurley to buy homes in the Hamlin Park and Oxford-Linwood neighborhoods surrounding its campus, rehab them, and put them back in owner-occupied hands to stabilize and strengthen the residential area. The first eight homes were acquired years ago for student residences, but the school added two more to the project.

“The Hamlin Park Initiative was undertaken to express the college’s commitment to the neighborhood we have called home for more than 100 years,” Hurley said in a press release.  “In most of the cases, we were able to return beautifully renovated homes to owner-occupiers and have made a visible, positive change in the streets surrounding the college."

Canisius partnered with Belmont Housing Resources for Western New York on three novations on Glendale Avenue and Humboldt Parkway, while two alumni - Alex and Will Severyn - managed the most recent renovation. The others were handled by the school's staff.

In all, the school invested $500,000 on renovations, and the sale agreements included a restrictive agreement that the homes must remain owner-occupied for at least 15 years. Two additional homes were donated to Habitat for Humanity.

“It was not enough that we simply sold these properties, as we feared that they would be acquired by investor landlords who may not be as committed to the vitality of the neighborhood,” Hurley said. “We wanted to make sure that our houses improved the street and helped to serve as a catalyst for other investments on the street."

Work was recently completed on the final home that was earmarked as part of the program, at 41 Hughes Ave., bringing the current initiative to a close. Built in 1915, the two-story house has 1,645 square feet, with four bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. It's full-market value, according to the city's assessment websites, is $121,111. It's being offered for $189,900, with the sale proceeds slated to be used to redo another house.

The school held a ribbon-cutting Friday morning.

"As a resident of the Hamlin Park, I've watched the transformation of this home from a state of neglect to a true asset to this neighborhood," said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. "I expect it will sell quickly as our city enjoys a very hot residential real estate market."

Brown also noted that the school continues to encourages its faculty and staff to live in the nearby neighborhoods by providing downpayment and closing-cost assistance in the form of forgivable loans. So far, 49 Canisius employees have purchased homes in the city through the program, obtaining $270,250 in loans on properties totaling $7.77 million in value.

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