BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- In the shadow of development, lifelong residents of Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood are fighting to stay in their homes.
“There was a period of time where you couldn’t pay someone to live in the Fruit Belt,” said India Walton, who lives in the neighborhood. “I mean you could get a single family, three bedroom, for $300, $400, $500 a month and currently the rents we’re seeing in that area is anywhere from $1,000 to 1,500 dollars.”
The Buffalo Common Council acknowledged in a recent resolution that the Medical Corridor development has raised real estate values in neighborhoods like the Fruit Belt.
The resolution said, “While an increase in real estate is generally a positive effect for homeowners, many of the lifelong residents of the Fruit Belt neighborhood are now financially struggling to remain in their homes as the price of rent steadily increases with real estate value.”
Council President Darius Pridgen told News 4.“Right now there is nothing to incentivize owners of properties to continue to rent to low and medium income residents.”
This resolution calls for a study on how to offer “good neighbor tax credits” to some landlords.
“That neighbors either be given some kind of tax abatement, or refund, who will continue to rent to low income residents,” explained Council President Darius Pridgen.
The resolution was unanimously approved by the Common Council.
Walton isn’t sure the tax credits will do enough to prevent gentrification.
“I think that it’s a start, I think that it’s a very fragile band aid that we are putting on a much larger problem,” said Walton. “I do wonder though why we’re giving more tax breaks to wealthy property owners in the neighborhood rather than finding ways to bring people out of poverty and turn renters into homeowners.’
Pridgen said they still need state approval to offer the tax credits. They hope to get that approval when lawmakers return to Albany in January.
This action builds on another resolution the Common Council just passed to study inclusion zoning in Buffalo. Inclusion zoning would require developers to include a certain amount of affordable housing in their developments.