BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After the Tops mass shooting, millions of dollars were announced to address long-standing inequities on the East Side of Buffalo.
But, very little has actually changed, and community leaders are frustrated.
“We are incensed that since 5/14 nothing clearly has changed, we have an upgrade of a Tops market at the loss of 10 lives and the traumatization of the entire community and we’re not going to stand for that anymore,” said Jerome Wright, vice chair of Voice Buffalo. “We’re demanding that money be dispersed and used by the community not by entities that are not in the community don’t know the community’s interest.”
After the Tops mass shooting, New York state announced a $50 million plan to help address deep inequities on Buffalo’s East Side — from providing more food services to helping small businesses and homeowners.
Some community activists have been critical of the program.
“There’s a bunch of red tape like Jerome said around the $50 million that was promised to the East Side of Buffalo a lot of people are having trouble getting access to those funds,” said Jalonda Hill, a community advocate.
The Buffalo East Homeowner Assistance Fund was created to help people in nine zip codes who are behind on water and sewer bills, user fees and back taxes. So far, 800 people have applied for assistance and just last week, 100 applications were sent out to be paid.
Those zip codes are: 14208, 14209, 14211, 14215, 14214, 14212, 14204, 14206, and 14210
“These applications, like I said, haven’t started coming to us since August and it does take a minute to get a program up and running to be able to receive applications and like I said, we’re moving at a steady pace now,” said Kate Lockhart, the Vacant & Abandoned Property Program Director at the Western New York Law Center.
According to the law center, money goes directly to municipal agencies, not directly to homeowners. The law center says it is getting dozens of applications every week.
The law center holds sessions every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Merriweather Library, to help people and receive applications.
If you are interested in applying you can click this link.
Millions of dollars have been set aside for emergency home repairs. But, those projects have been moving slowly as well.
The Community Action Organization is one non-profit handling home repair applications. The vice president of adult services at CAO says while hundreds of people have applied, not one home repair project has started through CAO and that a lot of eligibility documentation is required.
PUSH Buffalo is also receiving home repair applications and says the program is full and that there is a waiting list.
There are parts of the state’s plan that have worked out, a job placement center run by Goodwill has been set up on Jefferson Avenue. But, helping people out where they live is still something people are waiting on.
News 4 wanted to ask Governor Kathy Hochul about the program when she appeared at Zio Dominion Global Ministries in Williamsville on Sunday. But, the governor did not take questions.
She only said this: “I showed up in two weeks with $50 million dollars to invest in the East Side of Buffalo we’re working on workforce development, education, health care give people hope,” she said.
Down payments on homes are also part of the state’s plan, but banks and lenders such as M&T Bank, have not provided details on how smooth the program has been run.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.