This coming Monday, May 11th, we’re keeping our plans to present Slow Roll in partnership with People United for Sustainable Housing aka PUSH Buffalo – only instead of inviting everyone to show up and ride from their new headquarters in the old School 77 at 429 Plymouth on the West Side, we’re presenting a livestream Virtual Solidarity Roll tracing the trails of PUSH’s community impact with a series of guests starting at 6:30pm from our homepage here, and Slow Roll Squad is showing up to join their staff and volunteers along with Queen City Couriers to distribute food and household supplies from their new Mutual Aid Hub to neighbors in need.

The Mutual Aid Hub – by definition, an extension of solidarity in the understanding that we’re all mutually dependent – is one of many ways PUSH has responded to our current public health crisis. They quickly created a Coronavrius Response Center on their website with essential info translated into dozens of languages in reflection of the diversity in the neighborhoods they reach, helped ensure that all city residents maintained access to residential water service regardless of payment status, called on city leaders to protect residents by passing a ten-item Buffalo Tenants Bill of Rights, and much more toward their mission “to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality, affordable housing; to expand local hiring opportunities; and to advance economic and environmental justice in Buffalo,” as explained below from Harper Bishop, PUSH’s Deputy Director of Movement Building.

How have you observed the evolution of the old School 77 since you joined PUSH?

I haven’t been at 429 Plymouth since the beginning; however, I can say that School 77 has become a hub of activity for the community. In addition to PUSH Buffalo’s headquarters, Ujima Company, Inc., Peace of the City, and affordable Senior housing, there are meetings, workshops, committees, dance classes, youth soccer and basketball, as well as campaign planning teams, Senior activities, and more – every day of the week.

It’s dizzying how much happens at School 77 on any given day. And that’s exactly how it was meant to be. The community who planned for the reopening of this community institution wanted to ensure that multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and socioeconomically diverse programming was taking place at all times and that has absolutely transpired over the past couple of years.

How has PUSH evolved in response to the pandemic?

On March 16th, PUSH announced that it would be closing its offices in accordance with CDC recommendations and shifting organizational priorities to mutual aid and solidarity support. We know that vulnerable frontline communities are facing unprecedented threats from structural inequities in our economic system and gaping holes in our social safety net. In the face of this crisis, PUSH Buffalo took immediate emergency action to reduce social harm and economic hardship while coordinating delivery of vital mutual aid services to members of our community.

For our residential and commercial tenants, PUSH canceled April and May rent through providing stipends to residents to cover their portion of the rent.

In collaboration with Queen City Couriers, FeedMore WNY and US Foods, PUSH has provided groceries and nutritional support, as well as household items to 1,000 families from across the city, mostly Buffalo’s East Side and West Side.

We have also provided over $50k in rental assistance for low-income tenants and survivors of domestic violence.

Queen City Couriers – photo by Clay Davies

How can people get involved?

Please visit our website or call (716) 884-0356 Ext 700 to volunteer – either at the Hub, or to make deliveries on bike or by car to folx who are unable to leave their homes. Folks can drop off donations to the Hub on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays between the hours of 9am-2pm. If you’re in a position to be able to donate your stimulus check, email Emily Louis at elouis@pushbuffalo.org. Donations of any size are welcome and can be processed through our website as well.

We greatly appreciate it, every dollar goes straight back into providing for our community during this critical time.