Monday, October 19, 2020

PUSH marks 15 years building community

 By Bryan Pearson-Reese

    The organization PUSH Buffalo is celebrating its 15th year anniversary this year after the organization started in 2005 by founders Aaron Bartley and Eric Walker. PUSH stands for People United for Sustainable Housing, and its purpose is in the title. 

            Since the hit of COVID-19 PUSH was forced to continue work remotely. This was very different for the organization, considering that it is a very hands-on group. The nonprofit organization looks out and seek ways to create a strong neighborhood by reclaiming empty houses from neglectful public and private owners and redeveloping them for occupancy by low-income residents. Through this process PUSH also tries to develop neighborhood leaders capable of gaining community control over the development process, and also plans for the future of the neighborhood. 

Photo courtesy of PUSH Buffalo

             Harper Bishop, deputy director of movement building at PUSH, said since the pandemic in March, PUSH had moved its staff to remote working. Almost 50 people had now been assigned to work remotely, except for essential workers, such as property management and property maintenance staff.

            In the face of this crisis, PUSH Buffalo took immediate emergency action to reduce social harm and economic hardship while coordinating delivery of vital mutual aid services to members of our community. We cancelled and forgave the rent payments for all PUSH Buffalo residential and commercial tenants several times over the past 6 months,” Bishop said.

            The organization knew that Buffalo would go through some hard times, and some people would be suffering financially not knowing how to bring a steady income in, or how to feed their families. With canceling and forgiving rent payments PUSH had positively impacted 99 residential and five commercial tenants, according to the organization.

            PUSH also made more job opportunities as it prioritized mutual aid and solidarity work.   “We set up a Mutual Aid Hub at PUSH’s headquarters at School 77 and provided nutritional support, as well as computers, transportation, and other needs to families who needed it most,” Bishop said.

            PUSH has a clear mission to create strong neighborhoods with affordable housing that have good quality living conditions, expand job opportunities, and advance economic and environmental justice in Buffalo. PUSH members also work with partners and funders that try to improve the city in quality education, healthcare, community control of resources, and transportation.

            “At PUSH, we have built a multigenerational, multiracial, intersectional movement for justice. Our definition of success is deeply living into a world free of exploitation and extraction, and based on sacredness for our people and our planet, ” Bishop said.

            However, PUSH knows the work does not stop there. The organization will hold its

10th Annual Building Block Breakfast that will be held Oct. 29. The breakfast is a fundraising event and this year’s theme is Solidarity Amidst Crisis.

            “Please join us for an inspiring program on how the first 15 years of PUSH Buffalo have prepared us to meet the current moment and how you can create positive change,” Bishop said.