A collaborative project spearheaded by the Niagara Falls Housing Authority will aim to revitalize a neighborhood in Niagara Falls that’s been described as “forgotten” by residents there.
A resolution to allocate initial funding resources was passed April 12 by the Niagara Falls Housing Authority board of commissioners.
The engagement started with a $500,000 grant from the New York State Office of the Attorney General NYS Preservation Opportunity Program and Executive Director Clifford Scott. This initiative aims to bring attention to the issues facing the north end areas of Highland and Beech avenues and the Jordan Gardens housing project, and to lay out a plan of engagement to make necessary improvements to support the broader vision for the neighborhood.
A key component in the process is establishing a stakeholder group that will partner with the City of Niagara Falls. The stakeholder group will include 20 people who will have a major voice in determining the development of the neighborhood. Anyone interested can be nominated by reaching out to the NFHA.
“The strength of a city is really evidenced by the investment they make in their neighborhoods,” Mayor Robert M. Restaino said. “This investment that is proposed by the housing authority certainly is one of those projects that will present that kind of pride and that kind of excellence within our community.”
A press release noted, “The north end area faces a lack of jobs, transportation, safety, access to a grocery store, and more. This lack of access is especially alarming as this area is just minutes away from the bustling tourist area near the falls.”
The NFHA, in collaboration with the City of Niagara Falls, has presented a range of initiatives to address the challenges that the north end faces. This includes rehabilitating the Jordan Gardens housing complex, improving public safety, infrastructure updates, creating community gardens, establishing playgrounds and natural play areas for youth, developing single-family homeownership opportunities, bringing a mobile bank to the area, creating commercial and retail activities adjacent to Ninth and Depot streets, and launching and developing sustainable and growing workforce opportunities.
Scott has also identified a key group of consultants to support the stakeholder group for the project. The consultants have already been engaged and collected input and feedback from the north end community. The press release said, “Tanya Mooza Zwahlen and Brooke Mayer from Highland Planning have been vital in representing the voices of the community in regards to collecting input on residents’ wants and needs, as well as Tracy Diina Communications, who work to identify funding opportunities and resources for the neighborhood.
“The consultants will be led by Sabina Ramsey, founder and CEO of Insight Communications, who has a long track record as a strategic communication consultant and working with underserved communities.”
Ramsey said, “Our focus will be to support the community by continuing to listen to residents and bringing forth their collective voice through a range of different communication efforts to further strengthen the opportunities for the area.”
Insight Communications spent the fall of 2021 interviewing residents for a video documentary called “The Voices of Jordan Gardens” that was presented at the housing authority’s annual gala on April 21. The documentary highlights the various issues affecting the north end, as well as resident-led efforts to make positive changes.
The first meeting of the stakeholder group will take place in May to kickstart the neighborhood engagement plan to support the vision of revitalizing the north end.