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Juneteenth celebration continues with community members speaking on Gov. Kathy Hochul's $50 million investment in East Buffalo

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 17:45:10-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Juneteenth celebration continued Monday at Martin Luther King park with a special giveaway while several residents spoke about their thoughts on Gov. Kathy Hochul's $50 million investment to East Buffalo.

A coach with Buffalo Athletic League, Elzie Mayweather, hopes to see some of the investments focus on the youth.

"Instead of building a new facility, just take the old facilities and make it new for the kids," Mayweather says.

A colleague of Mayweather, Artis Green, agrees.

"I'm more clearly with the kid's spectrum, so anything positive that's going to make sure our future is secured, and they have a future," Green says. "Without them, we don't have a future."

Councilman Ulysees Wingo says the millions of dollars isn't a one-time investment.

"A great portion of it is going to go towards housing, and that is something that is absolutely necessary on East Buffalo," Wingo says. "What we do know right now is that $20 million to folks paying off delinquent water bills and tax bills."

Wingo says a major portion of this money will go to housing, but the councilman says he doesn't know when or how the funds will be allocated to his community.

"I don't know the frame of the structure work yet. I don't know who's the fiduciary is yet, so as far as the funding is concern," the councilman says. "We're just going to wait for how state government rolls out who the fiduciary is going to be."

The governor's office issued a statement saying in part:

"To ensure that community members are fully aware of and able to apply for these new resources, as well as existing benefits and services, the State is investing in organizations and strategies that have a unique ability to reach East Buffalo residents with cultural competency and credibility. This includes Governor Hochul's $3 million investment in the Resource Council of Western New York, one of the primary organizations providing daily services and food access to the East Buffalo community following the attack, that has been chosen as the State's candidate to be a "Resiliency Center," a federally-designated organization that becomes eligible to apply for and receive additional federal funding to provide social, housing and healthcare, and mental health services to the survivors of the attack and the family members of victims for up to three years. The Resource Council of Western New York will serve as the epicenter of the community moving forward where individuals can find out information on all the programs, services and funding available to residents in East Buffalo and more information will soon be made available as to eligibility and how individuals can apply. The State will also partner with the City, the County, and other local organizations to conduct direct outreach to residents through a Public Engagement pilot program that is intended to provide easy connections to benefits, programs, and services."

Meantime, Elzie Mayweather hopes some of the money is used for the upcoming generation.

"I hope that they do use it more generously with the youth and think about the communities inside of East Buffalo," Mayweather says.