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Summit to explore, question Buffalo's "renaissance"


Despite lots of talk about a renaissance in the City of Buffalo, a large number of its citizens remain poor. The latest Census Bureau report shows Buffalo's poverty rate at 30.1 percent, the third highest in the nation. Local advocates are hosting an event Saturday to help longtime residents benefit from economic growth and not get forced out by gentrification. 

Buffalo has seen a lot of revitalization in recent years, but PUSH Buffalo's Harper Bishop, co-founder of the Our City Builds Coalition says, low-income residents in the Fruit Belt neighborhood, around the Medical Campus, and also on the West Side, are being hard hit by the new growth. Bishop says under the city's latest tax reassessment, some residents have seen their tax bills increase anywhere from 25% to 400%.
"We're speaking every day to individuals who are being priced out of their houses," Bishop said. 
To raise awareness about the problem and discuss solutions, a day-long Anti-Displacement Summit is being hosted by the Our City Builds coalition which is dedicated to building community wealth through shared power.  
"Member organizations include Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, Justice for Migrant Families, PUSH Buffalo, Public Accountability Initiative amongst others," Bishop said. 

The summit will feature workshops on several issues affecting low-income residents including public education and transportation, frontline arts and climate justice, and immigration and housing.  
"We always find that after we've done this summit we've built a vast movement of people who are ready and prepared to take action. And that is really what all of this education and awareness-raising is about is to move people to action to then feel that they have ownership of taking part in Our City Builds and to move people to a place where they feel empowered to move forward on these issues."  

Bishop says author and syndicated program host Laura Flanders will also be flying in from New York City to premier a special report "Making Buffalo Our City."
"You're also going to hear from people who have been working in the community for a very long time and responding to that film and that they took part in it to say a particular issue. But there's a repetitive nature to it because everyone is saying the same thing around the threat of displacement and that this is our city, and we have every right to it, which is sort of our motto," Bishop said.   

The Anti-Displacement Summit is free and open to the public. Child care and lunch will be provided. It takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the former School 77, 429 Plymouth Avenue in Buffalo.

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