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Proposed jobs program seeks to bring opportunities to low-income neighborhoods

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

One local state lawmaker says while Buffalo is enjoying new economic growth, it's not necessarily benefiting the city's poorest. Assemblyman Sean Ryan is proposing a new job placement program, backed by dollars from the Buffalo Billion, to chip away at the city's poverty.

Under the proposed HIRE Buffalo program, companies that receive public subsidies, like Solar City, would be required to post their openings through the program, which in turn will network and reach out into some of Buffalo's poorest neighborhoods.

"We did all the right things with Solar City. It's on the bus route. Transportation is not an impediment. But we really need to work hard to create that linkage between those jobs being created and the neighborhoods that are in the greatest needs," said Ryan.

Joining Ryan at Canisius College Thursday were leaders from various Christian denominations, where the program was introduced, as well as the Jewish faith. Even more faith-based leaders are anticipated to join in shortly after the new year. Episcopalian Bishop R. William Franklin shared the sentiment that this program would satisfy not only an economic obligation, but a moral one, as well.

"The whole population benefits. Nobody should be left behind. We need to make sure that people have the skills and the opportunities to take jobs, to be in the workplace, and to be part of all of this," said Franklin.

According to numbers shared by Ryan, more than 30% of Buffalo's residents live below the federal poverty line. That is twice the county, state and national averages. He says Buffalo's poorest are concentrated within seven zip codes.

Ryan acknowledged that other faiths are practiced within the zip codes targeted for this program, and says there will be a wider number of faith-based and community representatives involved after the new year.