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Senecas receive nearly $1M for safer housing

Seneca Nation

The Seneca Nation is getting nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help provide safer housing on Seneca territory.

Seneca Nation President Todd Gates said the problem is that there is a lot of worn-out housing on the Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations, whether the rural areas of Cattaraugus or the Allegany section in Salamanca.

The cash comes from a Healthy Homes Production grant, part of more than $12 million nationally to 13 tribes. The Seneca president said the grant will help an existing nation home repair industry and potentially younger members of the nation who are in construction trades training programs.

"The age of the homes and a lot of the older homes, even in rural areas, have lead paint and they have a leaky roof, you develop mold within the interiors," Gates said, "and some of the programs that we're looking at helping with the mold and lead paint issues in our older housing stock."

Gates said there is also a problem with radon.

"It's highly prevalent here in Western New York," Gates said. "I've built all over the country, but back here in Western New York, it seems to be more evidence of radon coming up. It's naturally occurring, but it concentrates in homes where there isn't enough adequate ventilation."

He said the nation is also looking at new housing, both individual homes using a mortgage program and more senior citizen housing apartments.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.