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Partnership renovating homes in Buffalo

Thomas O'Neil-White

The sounds of hammers and falling debris echoed along Woodlawn Avenue in the Cold Springs neighborhood on Buffalo's East Side Wednesday morning.Near the corner of Woodlawn and Purdy Street, several people in red Bank of America shirts hustled back and forth from the back of a house to the street unloading wheelbarrows full of bits and pieces from the interior and exterior of the house.

Two women stood atop ladders, removing old siding. Their mission is to turn the formerly unoccupied home into a single-family home.

This is part of Habitat for Humanity’s 6th annual Global Build Week, in partnership with Bank of America. The bank is providing monetary donations as well as volunteers to help repair and rebuild houses in 10 different countries across the globe. Locally, three houses are currently being worked on, including the house on Woodlawn.

Habitat Buffalo Development and Communications Manager Stephanie Lawson said the partnership has been mutually beneficial.

“We’ve got more than 20 Bank of America volunteers spread out across three sites,” she said. “Helping us build up Buffalo.”

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Lawson said there is an urgent need for affordable housing in Buffalo. She said Habitat Buffalo not only wants to rebuild and repair homes in lower income neighborhoods, but also teach homeowners, new and old, about general upkeep.

On Woodlawn Avenue the bank volunteers remained hard at work gutting the inside in anticipation of an architect’s inspection. Once the inspection is approved, new walls can be put in.

Bank of America Buffalo Market President Kevin Murphy said this is part and parcel of Buffalo’s “City of Good Neighbors” reputation.

“Buffalo has a history, a legacy of great volunteering,” he said. “And helping those that are not as fortunate and this is all about us doing what is best for the community.”

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Murphy says the home is still in “demolition” mode with pretty much everything getting removed. Habitat Buffalo said the Woodlawn house will be ready to go on the market in 2020. On top of the bank’s $15,000 donation, they also contributed another $50,000 to Habitat Buffalo to help launch their neighborhood revitalization program.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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