Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of a home renovation by the Isaiah 61 Project (I61) that transformed a vacant building in a Niagara Falls neighborhood into a beautiful home. I61, which is a program that trains unemployed and underemployed community members in construction skills, enlisted approximately 75 students to rebuild the structure in preparation for it to be put on the housing market at the end of this month and is prepared to renovate several more homes in Niagara Falls.
By turning this eyesore into a home, a costly demolition was prevented, the property will once again add to the tax base, and participants were able to learn valuable skills that can be translated into careers, Governor Cuomo said. I applaud the I61 program for their work on this project, the first of what Im sure will be many in the greater Niagara Falls area.
The renovation was performed at 2215 Whitney Avenue and I61 students who worked on the project were supervised and assisted by instructors and licensed contractors. The integrated job training is provided by Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) Teachers, who treat the vacant house as a classroom. I61 is supported by a Western New York Power Proceeds Award of $154,500, which is funded by the New York Power Authority and ultimately allowed I61 to triple its class size, add two more teachers and purchase hand tools, power tools and classroom equipment.?
Jim Haid, Executive Director of the Isaiah 61 Project, said, I61 is proud to stand with our many partners and present this fully renovated home to potential first time home owners. Over 60 local residents, making the decision to better their own lives through hard work, renovated this house. They reclaimed 2215 Whitney Avenue, and that will be a source of pride for many years to come."
Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer, said, The I61 Project reflects New York States priority of supporting workforce development for Niagara Falls-area residents. The New York Power Authority is proud to be a partner in this vital endeavor through the Western New York Power Proceeds Award, in helping to make for a brighter future for hard-working families.?
I61 and Niagara Falls Community Development began collaborating in 2012 to provide a free trades job training program for unemployed and underemployed Niagara Falls residents, based in part of the fact that access to job training and employment placement is a critical issue in Niagara Falls and throughout the rest of New York State. Recognizing this, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council in 2013 granted $132,000 to assist the Niagara Falls Community Development Department and I61 in renovating a vacant fire house located in the Niagara Falls' North End on Highland Avenue. That particular renovated structure will serve as the I61 Trades Training Facility and ReClaim Store upon its completion this fall.? In total, six houses have been sold from the City to I61.
Seth Piccirillo, Director of Niagara Falls Community Development, said, A house is back on the tax roll, the block was improved and students received on the job training. Sale of the house is the real game changer, providing needed justification to rethink our entire approach to vacant property."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, The City of Niagara Falls sells vacant houses to I61 for $500 each. So far, six houses have been approved for renovation with more to come. The result will be more renovated houses returned to the tax roll, neighborhoods revitalized, residents being given valuable skills in the construction trades, and some very happy first time home owners.