November 20, 2013
Updated Nov 20, 2013 at 7:28 AM EDT
Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Bernice Radle and Jason Wilson are a powerhouse couple, revitalizing Buffalo one house at a time.
“We picked up our houses in auction. There are a lot of vacant houses out there,” Radle said.
“The one we are standing in now, we got for $28,000. It's a little bit of a gamble because you don't know what the inside of the properties look like or how much work they will need,” Wilson said.
This is the house they are talking about on Massachusetts Ave on Buffalo's West Side. The house next door they purchased for $20,000. They have three more homes in the works all houses bought at discounted price, through their own company called Buffalove Development.
“We do it because we feel there is a need to rehab vacant houses because there is a need and we want to fill the gap,” Radle said.
Wilson said it is all about the community.
“We live work and play in the community and it's hard to be an advocate if you are not actually there doing it,” Wilson said.
Bernice and Jason are just 27-years-old and both work day jobs. Bernice an Energy Efficiency Consultant with Buffalo Energy and Jason works with the Preservation Buffalo Niagara. They said the redevelopment of the Queen City is a passion they share. They started about two years ago.
“A lot of it's been learning on the job but that's the best way to do it. Just get your hands dirty and learn from your mistakes,” Wilson said.
Most of the money comes from the couple’s own pocket with some support from investors in the community. One of their homes needed a new foundation and roof. That work was a little over their head so they hired contractors to get the work done. Now, the house is coming along. The completed spaces are already rented out.
Wilson said this is something that is needed to revitalize Buffalo, especially as the population continues to drop.
“Some of the present challenges revolve around having too much infrastructure. In 1950, we were built to sustain a half a million people. Now, we are down to a quarter of that. We just have too much of everything so it is really hard for the City of Buffalo to keep track of housing violations and that brings down the character of the neighborhood,” Wilson said.
The couple also said they want to see the community thrive because its where they call home. Now, they are fixing up a house to move into as they start their life together. With all this on their plate, the couple is still finding time to plan their wedding.
“We are partners in life, love and business,” Radle said.