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Submitted by the Niagara Falls Housing Authority
A continuous project spearheaded by the Niagara Falls Housing Authority moves to revitalize a neighborhood in Niagara Falls that’s been described as “forgotten” by residents there.
The Niagara Falls Housing Authority board of commissioners approved the purchase of nine vacant lots along Highland Avenue and Beech Avenue in October 2022 with the City of Niagara Falls. Those lots will be used for single-family homeownership once NFHA finds a codeveloper partner. The NFHA recently closed on the purchase of those nine vacant lots (in March).
“This recent acquisition of the nine vacant lots adjacent to the Jordan Gardens project will hopefully show the community stakeholders that the NFHA is serious about this redevelopment project,” Executive Director Clifford Scott said.
The initial grant engagement started with a $500,000 grant from the New York State Office of the Attorney General New York State Preservation Opportunity Program (POP) in 2021. This beginning initiative aimed to bring attention to the issues facing the north end areas of Highland and Beech avenues and the Jordan Gardens housing project, and to lay out a plan of engagement to make necessary improvements to support the broader vision for the neighborhood.
Last month, the NFHA took over the management and operation of Cornerstone Village, a 40-unit apartment complex consisting of five buildings and a community room, from Norstar. This apartment complex is a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom, garden-style apartments. Individuals receiving a Section 8 Housing voucher are encouraged to apply for housing.
“The north end area faces a lack of jobs, transportation, safety, access to a fresh fruits and vegetables, and much more,” Scott said. “This lack of access is especially alarming, as this area is just minutes away from the bustling tourist area near the falls.”
The NFHA, in collaboration with the City of Niagara Falls, has presented a range of initiatives to address the challenges the north end faces. This includes rehabilitating the Jordan Gardens housing complex along with the NFHA co-developer Beacon Communities; improving public safety in conjunction with the City of Niagara Falls; infrastructure updates; creating community gardens; establishing playgrounds and natural play areas for youth; and developing single-family homeownership opportunities.
NFHA has partnered with Bank on Buffalo for a mobile bank on site at the Doris Jones Family Resources Building. The goal is to ultimately create additional homeownership opportunities adjacent to Ninth and Depot streets, and launching and developing sustainable and growing workforce opportunities through a grant from The Mother Cabrini Foundation in partnership with Niagara BOCES.
Scott said, “With this grant from The Mother Cabrini Foundation, we are looking to create some employment opportunities for neighbors to ultimately purchase new housing to offset some of the sky-high rental prices plaguing this community.”
The third annual “NFHA Community Day” will bring the north end neighborhood together to celebrate the rich history of the area. This event allows nonprofit vendors to engage the community, as well as allowing the public to access services and enjoy themselves. This NFHA-sponsored free event will be held in August and all are invited. Stay tuned for more information.