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PUSH begins work on new community hub

school_77_groundbreaking_0.jpg
Chris Caya WBFO News
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Some much needed affordable housing is on the way for seniors on Buffalo's West Side.

After nearly three years of planning - PUSH Buffalo officially kicked off its largest project to date - the $15 million renovation of School 77. Plans for the old classrooms on the top two floors include 30 apartments geared for seniors.  
    
"And it's crucial for us, and crucial to our mission, that it be affordable housing. We see rents rising in Buffalo," said Aaron Bartley, PUSH's Executive Director. He says there's a big demand for it.

school_77_groundbreaking.2_0.jpg
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
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Dozens of people turned out for the groundbreaking along the Normal Ave. side of the school on Tuesday.

"We always have between three and four hundred people on our waiting list. And that's without really pushing our marketing that much," Bartley said.

Along with providing new housing he says the goal is to transform the old school - just off Massachusetts Ave between Normal Ave. and Plymouth Ave. - into a community hub with recreational programs for youth in the gymnasium. Financial literacy and job placement classes for adults. And a new home for the Ujima Theatre Company to hold its productions.   
    
"Really community engaged theater. Theater that matters to the community. About issues that the community faces whether it's racism or challenges in the community. But drawing it out in a very artistic way that connects," Bartley said.  

The reconstruction of School 77 should be complete in about 14 months.