Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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September 23, 2013

Power Authority funds allow Falls' Isaiah 61 Project to expand

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A housing rehabilitation and job training program will be able to expand thanks to a boost from the New York Power Authority.

The Isaiah 61 Project, a nonprofit that trains unemployed and underemployed residents while rehabilitating vacant, city-owned homes, was awarded a $154,500 grant last week.

Jim Haid, Isaiah 61’s program director, said the allocation will allow the organization to triple its class sizes, add two new teachers for one year and buy tools and other classroom equipment.

“We have so many individuals who are coming to us looking for training,” he said. “We have a huge waiting list right now.”

And with additional students and teachers the project could take on more homes. At the current class sizes the group can rehabilitate one to two homes a year, but with expanded classes Haid estimates they will be able to handle three to five houses a year.

The Isaiah 61 Project works with the city to identify city-owned houses that would make good candidates for the program. After the houses have been rehabilitated the organization plans to sell them to low-income families and individuals.

“That’s a huge asset for low-income families that are looking for a home that will be affordable,” Haid said. “It’s also going to help the city reduce blight and strengthen neighborhoods.”

The Isaiah 61 Project has become a popular cause in the Falls enjoying the support of the city, Orleans Niagara BOCES, real estate agents, local contractors and major construction supply outlets.

In addition, the Isaiah 61 Project has been awarded major gifts by the John R. Oishei Foundation and Key Bank’s philanthropic arm.

The city’s Community Development department assisted the group in applying for a grant from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council that would allow them to turn an abandoned Highland Avenue fire hall into a re-use retail warehouse, offices, classrooms and work space.

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