HOCN has worked to support the community for over 20 years. Read below about some of the revitalization projects and initiatives we have successfully completed.
Increasing Homeownership Opportunities
Plymouth Avenue Block Reclamation Project:
HOCN’s first strategic initiative was to develop housing programs that restored the first block of Plymouth Avenue in Buffalo’s Lower West Side neighborhood. This initiative launched in 2002, known as the Plymouth Avenue Block Reclamation Project. We acquired vacant homes, rehabilitating them to resell to first-time homebuyers. These homes included 15 Plymouth Avenue, 42 Plymouth Avenue, 23 Plymouth Avenue, 44 Plymouth Avenue, and nearby homes at 60 College Street and 318 Maryland Street.
42 Plymouth has been completely renovated by HOCN when a supporter purchased this house, strategically located in the middle of the targeted block. The first floor served as HOCN’s office for eight years, while the second floor was occupied by a tenant. In 2011, it was privately sold by the homeowner.
Hudson Street Revitalization Initiative:
With the successful completion of the Plymouth Avenue Reclamation project, HOCN continued our strategic development initiative on Hudson Street. 263 Hudson Street was acquired and rehabilitated in 2009. Moving West down Hudson Street to Niagara, in 2013 HOCN acquired and rehabilitated 330 Prospect Avenue, an eyesore that sat vacant for many years on the corner of Hudson and Prospect Avenue. Both homes were sold to first-time homebuyers.
Whitney Place Properties Initiative:
Next HOCN began its Whitney Place Properties Initiative in an effort to reclaim this once vibrant street. In 2011, HOCN acquired and rehabilitated 251 and 245 Whitney Place, two vacant homes that blighted a block. Continuing work on Whitney Place, HOCN rehabilitated two more vacant properties in 2013 and 2014: 192 and 178 Whitney Place. These four houses now serve as the homes to four first-time homebuyer families.
Strategic Partnerships for Increasing Homeownership:
As we work to continue providing affordable homeownership options to families, we have begun partnering with long time community organizations. Our partnership with Zion Missionary Baptist Church assisted with the Purdy Street Homeownership Initiative in 2019. Together we built 2 new single-family homes at 152 and 160 Purdy Street in Buffalo’s East Side, filling a vacant lots in the community.
Maintaining Homeownership through Owner-Occupied Repairs
To pair with HOCN’s ongoing efforts towards neighborhood revitalization, we launched a new moderate home repair program in 2010. This programming was developed to address costly repairs in aging homes, providing stability and longevity to low-moderate income homeowners. Not only do these efforts create more healthy and affordable homes, but they help maintain homeownership in the community.
Since 2011, HOCN has partnered with state and local funders to provide grants and loans to homeowners to make needed repairs. Our effort has helped homeowners fix and maintain 310 units. Programs have included our NYS Affordable Housing Corporation and NYS Homes and Community Renewal funded initiatives like Planning to Stay Program, targeting senior homeowners, our Green and Healthy Homes Rehabilitation Program, which included funding for developmentally disabled homeowners in partnership with Learning Disability Association of WNY, and our ongoing Home Repair Assistance Programs, as well as our City of Buffalo Community Partnerships Initiative Programs.
Increasing Access to Quality and Safe Affordable Housing
HOCN values quality affordable housing for all. Investing in rental housing provides just that, a direct response to the lack of affordable rental opportunities for working families in our neighborhoods. When rents are guaranteed to remain stable, tenants move less often. In 2001, HOCN renovated and managed the Watkins Building on Chippewa Street in downtown Buffalo. In 2013, over 10 years later, we returned to managing rental housing after constructing a vacant lot in-fill on Hudson Street called Cynthia Gardens.
We have since continued to partner with community stakeholders, like Mt. Aaron Missionary Baptist Church, to construct and restore affordable rental housing in our core communities. The Mt. Aaron Manor apartments were built in 2015 to support seniors in the Pratt-Willet community. Other strategic partnerships for multi-family housing include the Niagara Gateway Apartments at 885 Niagara Street and the Main Utica Square Apartments at 1373 Main Street.
Enriching Neighborhoods through Innovative Economic Development
Buffalo Main Streets Initiative Program for Niagara Street:
In an effort to increase community development and help our mixed-use corridors improve alongside residential housing, HOCN administered two Buffalo Main Streets Initiative Programs between 2015-2017. The Buffalo Main Streets Initiative (BMSI) on Lower Niagara Street provided financial assistance for improvements including façade renovations and interior commercial and residential building upgrades to 4 commercial and 6 residential units, giving hardworking business owners a great opportunity to improve their storefronts. HOCN also assisted Breezer Development LLC with administration of a BMSI Program for the renovation of the long-time vacant mixed-use property at 1225 Niagara Street. This program provided financial assistance to restore the façade, and completely renovate the commercial space and 3 residential units, restoring an anchor along the commercial corridor of Niagara Street.
Buffalo Main Streets Initiative Program for Grant Street:
In 2018, HOCN was awarded an additional $300,000 from Empire State Development and the NYS Housing Trust Fund Corporation to oversee the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative on Grant Street, between West Ferry and Potomac Avenue. This program anticipates putting $275,000 into the mixed-use business district, assisting up to 7 commercial units in 2020.
Advocating for Culturally Appropriate Community Driven Enrichment
All of HOCN’s work is aimed at preserving the fabric of the neighborhood. Creating a stronger physical network cultivates more connections between the community members. A closer community promotes solidarity among members, creating a healthier neighborhood in which to live. These are not just short-term impacts, all of HOCN’s work is purposed to insure long-term revitalization. These smaller efforts weave together HOCN’s more prominent projects; they have a large impact on the reputation of HOCN in the neighborhood and do a great deal to boost the community’s overall pride.
Our projects have included Traffic Calming Initiatives, Housing Court Advocacy, painting 13 homes in 1 day with Brush Up Buffalo, planting over 299 trees, hosting community planning workshops, and cleaning and greening public spaces in our communities.