People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo), New York

People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo was founded in 2005 to serve as a resource to residents in Western New York communities to help provide affordable, resilient housing, create local hiring opportunities for underserved members of the community, and to “advance economic and environmental justice in Buffalo.” Since its founding the non-profit has established a wide variety of programs that advance these goals, and provides employment opportunities statewide. The Hiring Hall program helps to staff PUSH Green with underemployed and underrepresented members of the Buffalo community - especially people of color and women - to train disadvantaged residents on a variety of different careers, with a focus on the green energy/technology field. Since its founding, the Hiring Hall has trained more than 225 disadvantaged residents of the community, and employed almost 50 full time with companies across Western New York. PUSH Green contracts these employees from the Hiring Hall and other members of the Buffalo community to facilitate its vision: to create a resilient community that transitions from fossil fuel to green energy, and to help build green, affordable housing throughout the city. Since beginning its work in the Green Development Zone (GDZ), PUSH has created more than 100 living wage jobs for local residents, and transformed 120 properties within the zone to greener, more resilient uses. PUSH Green has now extended beyond its initial GDZ program to offer its services - retrofitting, energy assessment, solar installation, financing, etc. - and employment opportunities to under-represented individuals statewide.

Hiring Hall

PUSH’s Hiring Hall was established in 2014 as a resource for community members that establishes paths for under-represented employees in Buffalo to become skilled workers and general laborers on local building projects. As part of the Hiring Hall Program, the Hall (1) acts as an employer of record for its members; (2) recruits, screens, hires and/or manages employees; (3) provides wages, liability, and worker’s compensation insurance; (4) offers free training across a variety of fields, especially those focused on green technology and resilient retrofitting; and (5) provides overall support for employees, including costs associated with transportation, financial literacy classes, etc. As part of the Hiring Hall Program, members are trained in areas such as solar panel installation, hazardous waste removal, weatherization methods, stormwater management, and other environmental remediation techniques.

In addition to offering employees these resources, PUSH’s Hiring Hall operates as a source for a pool of qualified workers from which contractors can choose. For example, in 2015, PUSH partnered with Savarino Construction to contract approximately 30 laborers - all of which were people of color - to construct a building in Buffalo. This type of partnership between PUSH’s Hiring Hall and private contractors helps to create good jobs for local people on construction projects. Since its founding, the Hiring Hall has trained more than 225 workers, and employed almost 50 full time with companies across Western New York.

PUSH Green

The PUSH Green Program began in 2008 with the foundation of the Green Development Zone (GDZ) on the West Side of Buffalo. The GDZ was a 25 square block area in Buffalo with a large population of under-represented people, low-income residents, immigrants, and refugees. From the beginning, PUSH Green focused its efforts in the GDZ to make the area more environmentally and economically resilient through the creation of affordable, green housing built by local residents. PUSH Green’s first initiative in the GDZ emphasized the need to grow communities in an environmentally friendly way without displacing residents.

To construct affordable green housing and landscaping in the area, PUSH Green hired from its own Hiring Hall, in addition to other neighborhood workers. Projects included building PUSH’s green housing units, installing landscaping to assist with stormwater management, installing solar panels, and more. In addition to offering living wages in a green economy, PUSH Green employees also were provided legal support, financial advising services, and transportation whenever necessary.


Publication Date: January 2001

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