Nearly $200,000 will be used to weatherize housing and reduce home hazards for Burmese, Nepalese and other resettled political refugees in Buffalo.
The $193,000, to be spread over two years in Buffalo, represents an expansion of the Buffalo Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, which helped more than 200 of Buffalo’s neediest families lower energy bills with $2.6 million in funds in 2010.
The bulk of this round of money, which will be announced today by State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will help at-risk homeowners in Rochester and Syracuse. The money comes from a $2.2 million settlement with American Electric Power for Federal Clean Air Act violations.
“Aging homes, poverty and unemployment force too many low-income families to live in houses that are unsafe, unhealthy and bad for the environment. The programs announced today will address these problems head-on,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Burmese and Nepalese number roughly 20,000 in Buffalo, and are refugee groups with the highest rates of homeownership, according to the Erie County Health Department.
The need for housing assistance is great because more than 70 percent of homes in the city were built before 1939, and those being lived in by the newest refugees are often in extreme disrepair.
This results in expensive utility costs and home health hazards, including lead paint and asbestos exposure.
The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo will serve as the project’s administrator.
Jericho Road Community Health Center, a nonprofit located on the West Side that provides health and social services to resettled refugees, will be funded to employ community health workers with language and cultural skills to reach out to the Burmese and Nepali communities.
They will help identify homes with acute health, safety and energy-efficiency needs.