Don’t measure cost of rehabbing houses only in dollars and cents
The Buffalo News “watchdog” article and subsequent media coverage of the city’s use of Housing and Urban Development funding concerns me on several levels.
The article seems to ignore benefits brought about from rehabilitating older homes in underserved neighborhoods. These properties were rehabilitated with the intention for families to live there; boots on the ground to build neighborhoods. When there is strategic neighborhood revitalization, surrounding homes benefit. Current and future neighbors can be optimistic about fixing up their homes and a prosperous cycle continues.
At this juncture, turning to the government for support makes sense because private investors aren’t looking to rehab projects in these underserved areas. In time, that could change as property values rise to match the cost of rehabilitation.
However, a community can’t measure benefits only in dollars and cents. Change can’t be measured exclusively by the money made on a single house sale nor can it be expected immediately. If the city invested well, and I hope it did, then change will occur over time. People living in these targeted neighborhoods deserve the chance to prosper like other parts of the city have.
I believe Mayor Byron Brown is well intentioned in these efforts and I think we should be studying ways to make it more cost effective to do the work. Buffalo is better served with century-old homes that shine today due to purposeful community revitalization, as opposed to cookie-cutter new builds. Allentown can tell us all about that story!