New front in Buffalo mayor’s race: affordable housing

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton has held up her leadership of an inner city land trust to show she has the skills to run the city.

But it seems Walton’s vision for affordable housing is starting to crumble.

It has been one of the positive talking points of India Walton’s candidacy – the Fruit Belt community land trust, which she led until she threw her hat in the ring, was creating affordable housing while putting the brakes on the threat of gentrification

Located right next to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, longtime residents feared being forced out of their homes by higher housing prices, and for homeowners, higher property taxes.

As executive director for the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, India Walton joined forces with the Southern Tier Environments for Living and came up with plans for a $20 million affordable housing development.

But, officials at the land trust found the planning was disorganized, and Mayor Byron Brown now says Walton’s claims of success were fiction.

“And now the truth is coming out where you have the successor saying that she was inexperienced,” Brown said.

Walton’s successor at the helm of the Fruit Belt Land Trust told us they seem to be on the verge of parting company with the Southern Tier group and the land trust is now concentrating rehabbing single family and two-family homes, rather than a large multi-unit complex.

News 4 tried to ask India Walton about what is happening at the Fruit Belt Land Trust at one of her planned events on Tuesday, but her campaign staff told us she would not be responding to any of these political questions.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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