© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

PUSH Buffalo beginning $20M in net-zero housing on city's West Side

A house under renovation
Mike Desmond
This house is among two being renovated by PUSH Buffalo.

Albany has cleared the way for an environmentally advanced series of housing units in the heart of Buffalo's West Side.

For PUSH Buffalo, this 49-unit project has been in the works for years and the international supply chain crisis is making it more expensive. The key element of the 12 new buildings and the two rehabs is that they will be net-zero, requiring no additional energy, with key elements from geothermal heat and hot water to heat pumps. It's part of the state's push to start reversing rising environmental effects of using fossil fuels.

Executive Director Rahwa Ghirmatzion said 30% of the units will go to people with addiction and mental health histories and those close to homelessness.

"The units are going to look exactly the same as the other units. They're all going to be built affordably. They're all going to be built very green. And the only difference is that we will be partnering with BestSelf (Behavioral Health), that then would provide case management and 24-hour care."

Two more houses of the project.
Mike Desmond
This lot of project homes are on Rhode Island Street. Another lot is on Massachusetts Avenue.

He said rehabbing the two buildings is key to the project's role model status across the country.

"We want to demonstrate that it is possible because, of course, trying to address the climate crisis can't be that we're going to demolish all the homes in Western New York," Ghirmatzion said. "Buffalo has the second-oldest housing stock in the country. More than 70% of our housing is over 100 years old. So we do have to be able to retrofit and transition the homes off of fossil fuels."

PUSH Buffalo has a history of advanced environmental measures, like the solar panels on its headquarters, the former school 77.

Ghirmatzion said the project was supposed to cost just under $20 million, but supply chain problems have pushed that up around $2 million, leading to a quest for more money from Albany and some cuts in the building plans.

The goal is to start early next year on half of the project, with the other half slated for 2023. The plan is to use workers PUSH trains to do as much of the construction and tech installation as possible.

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.