BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Six months ago, Western New York was in shock after 10 lives were taken and three others injured in the Tops mass shooting. This week, we’re looking into what’s changed since the tragedy on major issues that have impacted the East Side for generations.

Earlier this week, News 4 reported on how there are numerous efforts to address food insecurity. We’re now taking a look at a state plan that has invested $50 million into the East Side. A big portion of that money is to help people with emergency home repairs.

Barbara Wilson lives on Moselle Street in Buffalo. She showed us the extensive water damage inside her home. The damage — so severe from years of having a leaky roof — that the wood paneling in her ceiling is exposed.

“Heavy rain, it would rain really bad in the house and I had to like put down buckets and stuff to catch the water and mop it up and everything,” Wilson said.

Barbara applied to the Buffalo East Home Improvement Program several years ago, but the program was derailed by COVID-19. After the Tops mass shooting, the state pumped $10 million into the program to help out residents like Wilson with emergency home repairs.

And right before the harsh Buffalo winter, Wilson had her roof repaired — no need for buckets all over the house.

“It been good, my friends been calling me and saying is it raining in your house? I’m like no, it’s not raining I’m getting a good night sleep,” Wilson said.

Wilson is also waiting on a new front porch and she has electrical issues in her home as well.

One street over on St. Louis Avenue, Denise Dawson-Minnifield had her roof repaired as well.

“It was easy, once I gave them the information and stuff everything went fine,” Dawson-Minnifield said.

It turns out Wilson and Dawson-Minnifield are two of the lucky ones.

BEHIP is run through five local non-profit agencies, which have received applications on a first come, first served basis. Some waiting lists have been closed due to demand.

“There’s a lot of unmet need in that community that goes back decades or generations, so it makes sense there’s still going to be calls for it,” said Jerome Nagy, CEO, of NeighborWorks Community Partners in Buffalo, which has been allocated $3 million as part of the program.

NeighborWorks Community Partners says it’s received more than 500 inquiries about BEHIP — but only about 100 homeowners will actually get assistance through NeighborWorks. Other agencies that administer the program are: PUSH Buffalo, Community Action Organization, Heart of the City and Broadway-Fillmore.

“From our perspective, it’s moving as quickly as it could, the rehab programs are the hardest,” Nagy said, “If you provide the paperwork that we need to verify your income homeownership those kinds of things than approval is not very difficult or cumbersome, it happens pretty quickly, where it could be a little bit more time-consuming is going in meeting with the homeowner going through the repairs that they need and trying to manage sort of what are the priorities based on the resources that we can allocate to each home, finding the contractors and then getting the work done that can take a little bit longer.”

Nagy says that it usually takes a week or two to be approved.

There certainly have been challenges with the Buffalo East Home Improvement Program. Finding enough contractors to do the home repairs is one of them. Contractors are also dealing with supply chain issues and the bidding process for home repair projects takes time. Plus, there’s a $40,000 cap per home, so many home repairs are being left undone.

“Forty thousand dollars doesn’t quite go as far as it used to, so a lot of homeowners have more need than we can meet, but some of us have other sources that we can look to layer on top of that,” Nagy said.

BEHIP also applies to residents in the following zip codes: 14204, 14206, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14214, and 14215.

The state’s $50 million plan also includes grants small businesses $20 million to help people with back taxes and bills that can be foreclosed on, such as water and user fees; plus millions of dollars to help first-time homebuyers. The plan also invested $1.5 million in a Goodwill Career Builder Walk-In Center on Jefferson Avenue.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.