Mayor Byron Brown addresses poverty concerns in Buffalo

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – On July 11th,  News 4 showed you what the country’s 3rd poorest city looks like. News 4’s Nalina Shapiro told a story about Buffalo’s east side. The average home sold there for only $37,426, much less than the average home price on the west side, which is $123,546. We also reported the east side has some of the most vacant structures. By the Broadway market there are 1,704 vacancies among 6,471 units according to Buffalo Business First.

Historians said people left the east side in the 1950’s and moved to the newly built suburbs. That’s when low income families took advantage of the lower prices and slum landlords took advantage of them. Outspoken U.B. Professor Henry Louis Taylor called poverty “systemic racism.”

After watching our report, Mayor Byron Brown wanted to address poverty concerns.

“So my response to him is there is a level of racism that has challenged communities all across this country,” said Mayor Brown. “But the city has worked to lift every section of the city of Buffalo and make investments in every section in the city of Buffalo.”

The city put together a list of east side projects to show News 4 in response to our report.

“You see, just a partial list of projects things that have been done things that are being worked on things that will be done,” said Mayor Brown.

Mayor Brown says over the past 10 years the city has invested over $451 million on Buffalo’s east side. Nearly $80 million went into demolishing vacant structures. One of the new east side projects is the WNY workforce development center. It’s a 48 million dollar investment, part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo billion. The work training center is being built on Northland avenue, on a lot that has been vacant for 25 years.

The mayor said investment like that make a difference but he doesn’t deny more work has to be done. The one problem getting in the way of more new development said Mayor brown is the older generation pushing back against gentrification.

“People who have lived there in the worst of times and through decline are fearful in some cases of being pushed out,” said Mayor Brown.

On July 11th, 14 year old Razon Harris said he doesn’t think his parents taxpayer dollars are benefiting his own neighborhood. He lives near the Broadway Market in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. We met him as he was doing yard work at his grandparents home. He told us his parents home used to be vacant but they took the time to fix it up.

We took his concerns to Mayor Brown.

“Well, so we’ve spent millions on community centers for children in every section of the community where children can go. On the east side of Buffalo, we’ve spent 18 million dollars renovating the improving community centers, we’ve made a substantial investment in parks and playgrounds,” said Mayor Brown.

Mayor brown said investments in education are also key to helping people get out of poverty.

“We’ve invested heavily in Say Yes to Education, so every child in a Buffalo public school can get scholarship to go to college,” said Mayor Brown.

The city said he high school graduation rate jumped from just 48% in Buffalo public schools to 61% over the past three years.

“We can’t have people feel like they are on the outside of opportunity,”said Mayor Brown.

Mayor Brown said everyone has to do a better job, but do not tell him he isn’t trying. Since he took the oath of office in 2005 Mayor Brown said he lives and breaths for the community he serves.

“Many days when I come home just in time to brush my teeth and take a shower go to bed before the next day starts again because of my commitment to turn this community around,” said Mayor Brown.

Our original report on poverty received a lot of negative attention. Many people left messages anonymously on our website, filled with hateful messages. Mayor Brown said there is no room for that kind of hate because it only makes things worse.

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