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We Don't Live in a "Ghetto"

An open letter to PBA Chairman Sam Hoyt:

You owe the residents of the West Side an apology. Last week the authority you chair was allowed to go ahead and demolish eight homes on Busti Avenue, and in fewer than 12 hours the homes were mere rubble. During the coverage of this momentous event you said that you and the authority are “going to send a message [that] you’re not entering a ghetto when you cross into the great city of Buffalo.”

If the West Side is a “ghetto,” Mr. Hoyt, it is because the Public Bridge Authority has made it so. They have owned those eight homes on Busti for more than 20 years and have let them deteriorate. They have created uncertainty in our neighborhood—no one knows what will happen in our neighborhood because the authority has been talking about expansion for the past 20 years. Our neighborhood has been disinvested in because no one knew what the future would look like; our sidewalks are un-walkable, or streets un-drivable, and our people are un-interested. Not to mention the consistent lack of inclusion by the PBA of the residents that live adjacent to the Peace Bridge. Because of the ambiguity and lack of transparency displayed by your authority, Mr. Hoyt, it is becoming far too easy, and far too common for my neighbors to throw their hands up in the air.

This is not what a community should be like. Neighbors should talk to each other, they should care about each other, and they should care for their community. If the West Side, our community, is a ghetto, Mr. Hoyt, it is because the authority that you chair made it one—and we should get an apology for it.

> Natasha Soto, Buffalo

Natasha Soto is an organizer for the Clean Air Coalition of WNY, compiling feelings held by the coalition’s West Side members.

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