December 4, 2008

No Hope in HOPE VI

There has been much discussion related to the HOPE VI project in Niagara Falls. We've posted about the fact that millions in casino revenue, dollars obligated to support economic development projects, will be diverted to fund this low-income housing project. In addition, there have been newspaper articles and radio shows dedicated to the fact that this land is currently contaminated with incinerator ash.

What hasn't seemed to gain traction is the fact that this project now has a price tag approaching $80 million. That would be $80,000,000 to build 282 low-income housing units at Center Court. Now, my momma didn't raise no math major, but a quick grab of my calculator tells me that those units will cost over $280,000 a piece to construct. That is simply staggering and appalling all rolled into one.

With that amount of money, the administrators of these funds could buy 282 $100,000 houses, invest $100,000 in renovations into those homes and have plenty left to furnish them. Better yet, instead of creating 282 low-income housing "units", how about utilizing that $80 million to buy 1,000 homes for low income families in Niagara Falls. Maybe inspiring people to take some pride in home ownership would reduce the sickening number of decrepit residences in the city.

With HOPE VI, there is no hope. It does nothing but keep poor people in a centralized area. Where is the hope in that? It's like the old saying: Catch a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Building low income housing units does nothing to build character and self esteem. Owning your home, in most cases, does.

Someone in the Cataract City, besides Ken Hamilton, needs to step up and say that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. This project is a disaster. Do something to inspire pride in your community. Give people real hope.

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