• Jason Sins

Revisiting Buffalo's East Side by the Numbers

Another Dyngus Day down on our historic East Side Polonia area is in the books, and I still see things that need to be fixed. The area has some issues with vacant lots, as well as some decrepit properties, and lack of family friendly businesses to draw residents from other areas of the city. The Easter season and Dyngus Day Parade are great events that expose the East Side to many new residents, and serve as a return for many others. Unfortunately it lasts maybe a week or two, and then the area is relatively dormant the rest of the time. It needs to change if Buffalo is to truly experience a full renaissance.

One of the major issues is the perception of the area to the public and it's deeply ingrained in all of Buffalo’s residents. When we went down to the parade, we noticed the same cultural differences that are well known to most residents. There is no doubt that there is a high percentage of African-Americans, in the East Side, but would you be surprised to know that in 2011 Caucasians and other minority groups made up the majority of ethnic races on the East Side?

The Real problem on Buffalo’s East Side is Poverty, and its been that way for years. Until our city can really become truly united, poverty will still run rampant. We must attack Poverty in these areas, to counteract high crime, and sagging housing values, but most importantly better education and raise graduation rates in the city schools! In 2013 the Census Bureau released it’s results on cities. The information provided is staggering.

–   The Census Bureau now pegs the poverty rate in the city of Buffalo at 29.9%. These rates are closer to 50% in Zip Codes associated with the City’s East Side!

  • While that is down from the nearly 31% poverty rate of three years prior, it still places Buffalo as having the third highest poverty rate of any American city of more than 250,000 residents, behind only Detroit (36.2%) and Cleveland (32.6%).

  • When cities of less than 250,000 residents are included, Buffalo drops down to the sixth in the rankings and it makes Rochester (31.3%) the “poorest” city in New York State.

Buffalo’s High School Graduation rates fell in 2012 to 47%, a seven percent decline from 2011. The city was red flagged for its performance at the time of the results.

If we are serious about change here in Buffalo, these numbers have got to be brought down further. As I related to about property value, and education, both remain a major issue that need to be addressed. These numbers too are staggering.

  • The picture is bleaker when looking at the school-by-school breakdowns. Among the 20 city public and charter high schools, only four showed any gains, while nine showed losses of 5 percentage points or more compared with 2011’s rates.

  • The property values in the East Side zip codes are valued at 20% – 60% lower than with the rest of Buffalo, and have not seen increases in value in years. Also the percentages of home owners in the area is very low when compared with the rest of the city of Buffalo.

One of the major issues about all this is that the zip codes associated with Buffalo’s East Side encompass over 8 miles of the city. That’s a large portion of the city of Buffalo, and if we are truly going to turn things around in the Queen City, then this needs to begin to change soon. All those cranes that we see in the downtown area aren’t going to mean much if one of the area’s largest corridors is still rampant with poverty.

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