December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

                The end of the calendar year. Day 366 of 366 (it’s a Leap Year, remember). In our personal lives, we often think about where we've been and where we’re going at the end of the year. The new year brings about resolutions and the hope of things being better, different or continuing in the same capacity. For businesses and organizations, this usually occurs around the fiscal year (July to June). However, in this post, we’re going to take a look at what Neighborhood Housing Services of South Buffalo accomplished in 2012.

December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

                We here at Neighborhood Housing Services of South Buffalo wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season!

                Our schedule for the next week will be as follows:
                December 24th – ½ day, 8 am – 1 pm
                December 25th – Office closed
                December 26th – Regular hours, 8 am – 6 pm
                December 27th – Regular hours, 8 am – 6 pm
December 28th – Regular hours, 8 am – 6 pm
                December 31st – ½ day, 8 am – 1 pm
                January 1st – Office closed
January 2nd – Regular hours, 8 am – 6 pm, resume

                Have a wonderful end of the year!

December 17, 2012

Snow Removal Safety

                Besides last winter’s anomaly of great weather, winter in Western New York is full of snow removal. Injuries are really common with snow removal. About 16,500 people are treated in emergency rooms annually for injuries related to manual snow and ice removal, while over 6,000 people are treated for injuries occurring while using a snow blower. The most common injuries associated with snow removal include sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders, as well as lacerations and finger amputations. Hopefully these tips can keep you from heading to the emergency room this winter.

December 10, 2012

Have a Safe Light Display

                It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. But with the lovely atmosphere of the holiday season come some scary statistics: 240 house fires a year occur because of trees and another 150 fires occur because of lighting displays, 21 deaths and $25.2 million in damages as the result of these fires. Read on for some tips on how to prevent these fires for a safe and happy holiday season.

December 3, 2012

Stopping Drafts in Their Tracks

                We’ve touched on this a few times in the blog, but a big energy problem in the winter time is drafts. We hear constantly about windows and doors being big problems. They are, but there are other places as well, such as the attic, the dryer vent, and the chimney. Not only is letting heat out of your home dangerous for your utility bills, it can also be dangerous for the environment. Homes using fossil fuels account for 6% of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Remember to check out our website at to see if you’re eligible for weatherization. Read on to see what you can do yourself!

November 30, 2012


The City of Buffalo will be hosting three open houses to share information and obtain community input to help prepare its Five-Year Consolidated Plan.

November 26, 2012

Heating Safety

The cold season is most definitely here, and will be here for a long few months. This means it is prime time for heating the home! No matter what type of heat you use (fire, wood stove, pellet stove, electric heat, fuel oil, etc.) it is important to use safe measures when using it. Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths, with almost half reported December – February. A few weeks ago,  I wrote about what you should do for your furnace to get it ready for the heating season, and that is a big part of heating safety. You need to make sure first and foremost that your equipment is in proper working condition, clean and safe to use. Equipment includes fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure these are in proper working order and have been replaced if older than ten years old. Another general tip is if there is a fire hydrant near your home, help the fire department out by keeping it clear of snow.

November 19, 2012

Landlord's Guide

                Last week I wrote about how to get an apartment and what to do after you get it. This week, we’re moving to the other side of the coin – tips for landlords. I've never been a landlord, but my dad has for quite some time now. I've seen what good tenants and bad tenants can do to an apartment. Read ahead for some tips on how to maintain a good relationship with good tenants.

November 13, 2012

Tips for Renting an Apartment

                In the current housing economy, there is a great debate on purchasing a home vs. renting a home. For young people, there’s almost no contest. I myself have been a renter for over five years, in which I’ve lived in four different apartments. There’s good, bad and ugly to renting your home. Below are some tips to help you get the apartment, make it feel like a real home, and possibly save some money along the way.

November 5, 2012


The weather is definitely changing here in Western New York. Almost all the leaves are off the trees (and hopefully raked up in piles off your lawn). The skies are often overcast and there’s a persistent chill in the air. If your home needs some help keeping you warm this winter, our Weatherization Assistance Program may be able to help! (To find out if you’re eligible, check out our website at or call our office at 823.3630.) You may not need major work, however. Here are some tips to help keep your home warmer this winter and save some money on energy bills.

October 29, 2012

Dust and Contaminants in the Home

                Dust can be more than just a sign that you haven't been keeping up on your cleaning chores lately. Contaminants, both from the air in your home and things you've tracked in from the outside, can settle into your dust and create a dangerous health situation for you and your family. Read on for more information about just why it is so important to get that dust out of your home on a regular basis.

October 22, 2012

Need a repair? What to do!

If you have a home, chances are there is always something that could be fixed. And if you own that home, you or someone you hire are going to be the one to fix it. If you rent, then you are probably lucky enough to be able to call maintenance. For those of you who are do-it-yourselfers, you need to make sure you do things the right way to avoid problems down the road.


Our congratulations go out to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo for winning the HUD Secretary’s  Award for Community Foundations! The award was given to the CFGB in recognition of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative – Buffalo, “an exemplary public-private partnership that has transformed relationships between the sectors, led to measurable benefits for the community and its residents, and served as a worthy model for others to follow.” HUD’s press release can be found here and this is a link to their profile of CFGB. Congratulations again! It is a pleasure to work with you to further our mutual mission goals.

October 10, 2012

Fire Safety Week October 7-13

                This week is National Fire Safety Week, so it seems as good a time as any to talk about how to take the proper precautions to protect your family in case of a fire.

October 9, 2012

Fall Lawn Care

                With the major droughts across the country this summer, fall lawn care is more important this year than ever before. Read on for what to do to your lawn over the next month to make sure you give it the best shot to be lush and green next year.

October 1, 2012

Are You Prepared: What to Plan For in an Emergency

                On the day before a Friday the 13th, in 2006, a nasty storm started that was so bad it has its own Wikipedia page, and became known as the October storm. A boil water advisory, water shut off, 400,000 people without electricity, nine inches of snow, three people died, and countless trees were lost. Many people were left without knowing what to do, not being prepared, and taking unnecessary risks to get provisions. Though no one can predict these kinds of surprise storms, natural disasters or manmade disasters, it is important to be prepared and have an emergency kit in your home.

September 24, 2012

Weatherization Seeks Clients

Neighborhood Housing Services of South Buffalo are in a fortuitous position to take on new weatherization clients and get their homes done before the snow flies.

September 17, 2012

Utility Efficiency

Last week, I wrote about how to save money by changing your light bulbs to more electric bill friendly CFLs and LEDs. To continue saving you money, this week’s blog is about how to pare down your utility bills even more.

September 7, 2012

Energy Efficient Lighting

                Did you know lighting accounts for about 20 percent of the average home’s electric bill? This happens because of inefficient bulbs and poor lighting habits. There are new light bulb regulations being ushered in to conserve energy on our planet.  

September 4, 2012

Pest Control

Last month, I wrote a blog post about the different types of summer insects that could invade your home and harm you, your family and your furry friends, Fluffy and Scruffy. This post is a continuation of sorts, letting you know about other pests that can invade your home and cause you headaches.

August 27, 2012

Meet Megan!

In the last few weeks, NHS has gone through some changes in the office.

August 20, 2012

Break the Mold

                Mold is a very important health issue in housing. It is created by moisture that is not cleaned up or not noticed. If you’re like me with an allergy to penicillin, or if you have asthma, it can be a life threatening issue instead of just a gross problem.

August 13, 2012

Lead in the Home

 You might think you know all there is to know about lead and refuse to let your child eat those paint chips they found on the floor. But lead paint chips are just the beginning of the lead dangers that are in and around your home.

August 6, 2012

Summertime Insects

Though summer is a beautiful time in Western New York, it tends to bring out the pests of the world. I don’t mean kids who are bored, but rather the bugs, birds, bats and rodents that invade our homes. This time, we’re tackling the insect group. There are a lot, and not all will be covered. The most commonly harmful to your structure and your health are listed below.

July 19, 2012

World Changers: Day 4

It's the last day, and each house is getting the last touches before the volunteers return home. When they go, they leave something brighter than when they arrived. That's a goal we can all strive for in our lives.

Small details - like this tiny hatch - receive attention on the last day.
There's something that stands out to me in the pictures from this week, and I wonder if you have noticed it as well. It's the imperfection -- the splashes of paint, the shaky borders, the unreachable corners.

July 18, 2012

World Changers: Day 3

There's something about sunshine and fresh air and warm weather that could make a person take any excuse to head outside. Whether you read a book in the shade, sip lemonade on the porch, or trundle about the flowerbeds, there's something blissful about this summer weather.

But summer is not a good season for strenuous activity, at the risk of heatstroke or dehydration. The World Changers volunteer teams are painting and climbing scaffolding in the relentless sun. To keep everyone healthy and safe, the teams take regular breaks to rest in the shade and drink water.

These rest breaks may be one of the best times to talk with the volunteers and get to know them a bit better. Each crew has a fun nickname, often referencing their tools, and a unique dynamic.

Break times are determined by a "Break Master", a student responsible for choosing morning and afternoon break times as well as managing the crew's water cooler and other break supplies such as cups and ice.
Can you tell where the old paint ends and the new coat begins?

There are other positions on the crew held specifically by the students rather than on of the adult staff. However, it seems to me that "Break Master" is far and away the best title.

Teamwork isn't just for large volunteer projects like this, either. When you work on a DIY project around your own home, it is a good idea to grab a friend to work with. It makes the physical labor easier, but, more importantly, keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by the little problems that always pop up.

Especially if you repay them with a tall glass of lemonade on the porch.

July 17, 2012

World Changers: Day 2

Tuesday, and the work begins. The teams of volunteers saw the homes they'll be working on for the first time last night, and aside from one dropped paint bucket, everything is good to go. And while we might wish for a bit less heat, the clear skies are going to help us meet our deadline of painting 14 homes by the end of the week.

Volunteers grab a quick break outside one South Buffalo home.

July 16, 2012

World Changers: Day 1

World Changers have arrived in town, and there's painting to be done. So let's get to it.

At Burgard High School, loaded buses were pulling into the parking lot. Teenagers were spilling out, stretching their limbs after a long ride, and scrambling about finding their teams for the week. In the back, staff member bustled about a wagon loaded with carefully sorted paint buckets, making sure each team of volunteers would have the paint brushes, masks, scrubbers, gloves, and garbage bags they would need for the coming week.

July 3, 2012

Meet Heidi and Kelley!

NHS of South Buffalo has been working with AmeriCorps volunteers for several years, and right now we are pleased to have two in our offices! Heidi Eckstein and Kelley Brannon, both serving through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, have been working to spread awareness of our programs and workshops.

Heidi Eckstein teaches a pre-k class about recycling.

Meet Kurt!

Kurt Vogt was looking for a senior project - the capstone of his four years at Canisius College. He went to the Office of Community Based Learning and learned about community organizations seeking volunteers. Interested in NHS of South Buffalo's programs, he contacted us and offered to create a documentary as a service-learning project.

June 29, 2012

Come One, Come All! This upcoming seminar is perfect for anyone looking to purchase their first home! 

June 20, 2012

Buffalo the Beautiful Poetry Contest

Think your neighborhood has got it going on? Tell us about it!

At NHS of South Buffalo, we listen to what you, the community, need, want, and think. Now we want to celebrate our great neighborhood with words from you!

Residents of all ages are invited to submit a poem or multiple poems -- any style, any theme, any length. The winning poems and poets will receive a new CFL light bulb and be featured in our August Newsletter.

Send in your work before July 31st. Please include where you live (which we won't share or use without your permission) and your name.

By mail or in person:
1937 South Park Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14213

By email:

Remember, it's your neighborhood, your poem, and your words. Be expressive!

June 12, 2012

A Brief History of Radon

Radon gas is dangerous, especially in mines. Way back in 1530, centuries before we even knew radioactivity was a thing, German scholars were writing about a mysterious wasting disease (possibly lung cancer) afflicting miners.

In 1900, radon was the fifth radioactive element identified. It's parent element, radium, had been discovered two years before. Since radium had a faint white glow, it began to be used for watch faces. About 4,000 women--known as the Radium Girls--were hired to carefully paint a mix of glue, water, and radium powder onto the watch dials. These women each painted about 250 watches a day, licking the radioactive brushes to keep their tips sharp and painting their nails or faces for a bit of fun.

June 7, 2012

Two Assessments, One Happy Home

The goal of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is for houses to receive both energy efficiency and health and safety improvements. In fact, we've already had to exclude nine homes because they didn't need weatherization!

June 5, 2012

The ABCs of Recycling

One boy shows off his picture of his home
Today was a special day for me. I got to leave the office. Not only that, but in exchange for my desk and internet access I got to visit one of our local daycare centers and spend my morning talking with kids about recycling! My arms loaded with library books, coloring sheets, letters to the parents and directions, I headed out.

April 18, 2012

Green and Healthy Homes Initiative: Local Statistics

As part of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), NHS of South Buffalo will contribute our expertise in weatherization and home rehab financing to make Buffalo homes safer for our families. It's sorely needed, and that's a fact.

Here are some more facts about the state of our local homes.

March 28, 2012

GHHI and Weatherization

There’s a new group in town—the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI). No, it’s not yet another well-intentioned citizen starting a non-profit to change the world. In fact, GHHI is almost the opposite.

Simply put, the goal of GHHI is to ensure that “all families and children live in homes that are healthy, safe, energy-efficient and sustainable.” That may seem like a lot of work, and it is. Take it from us; tackling even one of those issues is hard enough!

March 20, 2012

7 Strategies for a Healthy Home

Is your home a healthy home? Would you know if it wasn't?

Each home, and family, is different and you'll notice as you read that some of these fit you better than others. There isn’t enough room in one article to describe all the ways to find and fix problem.  Future posts will delve more deeply into each “strategy” with tips for different budgets and schedules. So when you start thinking, "Of course I want to keep my house pest-free! Telling me pests are no good doesn't help me safely get rid of them!" know that such advice is on its way.

March 13, 2012

Preservation and Weatherization

Preservation has been a hot topic in Buffalo this year, crowned by hosting the National PreservationConference last October. Once our national guests left, the excitement kept going. At the end of May the group Preservation Buffalo Niagara will be holding its Third Annual Preservation Awards in the Statler Building—itself a newly dusted off and restored historical venue downtown. Buildings can have historic value for a number of reasons--association with a great event or person, exemplification of a particular architectural style, or part of a larger historic neighborhood--and Buffalo has all three.

January 26, 2012

Interview with Pam Tait-Kwiatkowski

As I sit down to talk with Pam I take a moment to glance around her office. It’s a large space, with seating for the clients she works with and photos of her family lining the cabinets. I know from previous conversations that she is especially happy with the walls – this summer a group of World Changers volunteers removed the horribly dated wallpaper and painted everything a crisp white. Today, Pam told me, she would be free to talk. Monday is a “paperwork day”.

Q: How long have you been with NHS?

2011 in Review

New Year’s resolutions and nostalgia could be a national pastime. Like many other Americans, a couple of weeks ago you probably spent plenty of time thinking about the upcoming year – envisioning your goals, longing for the warmth of summer, marveling at how time flies. You also may have spent some time reflecting on last year: what surprises did you face, and what did you achieve?

And, let’s be honest, you probably haven’t been thinking about, “What did NHS of South Buffalo do in 2011?” Much of the work we do is quiet, yet powerful, which is why we want to take this opportunity to share our stories with you.