Following Up...
I've been documenting the public safety and heath problems that exist around Buffalo Public Schools for the last few months. I've written a larger piece about the problem and called it the School House Project. Today I had an opportunity to check in on a few of the properties I've been monitoring over the past few months. While a few demolitions such as this one on Northampton Avenue continue to happen, I'm still left wondering if there is any systematic approach to monitoring and maintaining these properties.
Demo near "new" East High School
Demo on Northampton
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The problem directly across from Buffalo's City Honors High School still exists. Here, at 212 Best Street I first documented these conditions six weeks ago. Today I followed up and found these conditions across the street from City Honors High School. Nothing has changed. The house is still wide open, 50 feet from the school.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us City Honors Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
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Further into the 'hood I re-visited 319 Koons Avenue. I first wrote about this city of Buffalo owned property a few weeks ago, over here.
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Nothing has changed. This city of Buffalo owned property is still wide open. 319 Koons (use that satellite image to see the relationship to the school) is one block away from the recently renovated Emerson High School at 1405 Sycamore Street and directly across the from 320 Koons, the scene of four murder violent crime spree just a few weeks ago. A few months ago a group of housing activists lead by the inspiring work of Michele Johnson focused their attention on correcting a problem of neglect and abandonment at 242 Koons Avenue.

Since my first posting about 319 Koons Avenue I had an awkward conversation with John Hannon, Director of Buffalo's Division of Real Estate. I re-introduced myself to him at the press conference last week for the Mayor's Newly Revised Housing Task Force at 41 Loepere Street. You can read about the press conference, over here. John Hannon told me that I couldn't believe what a difficult job his Dept. has here in the city. I tried to sympathize with the overwhelming problems the entire city is confronted with in dealing with abandoned, boarded, derelict and vacant residential, commerial and industrial property. I didn't get very far. He did promise me an opportunity to sit down and discuss some specifics about his department's policy and practices of maintaining and selling city of Buffalo property.

I'll make sure to focus my questions on innovations and marketing mechanisms such as using "for-sale signs" on the properties and having a complete listing of city owned properties on the city's website with pics! Even if we use a stencil and spray paint for the "for-sale" signs at least people will know that the property is available.

I'll make sure to report about that conversation with John Hannon as soon as possible. Wish me luck!
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