When Maxine Murphy moved to Buffalo’s West Side in 2006, she found a vibrant, diverse neighborhood. It was also full of vacant, abandoned houses; residents were struggling to find good jobs and keep up with rising weatherization costs to make it through the cold Buffalo winters. “I wanted to be part of the solution,” Murphy says.
Murphy quickly found out about a new organization called PUSH Buffalo (which stands for People United for Sustainable Housing) and started volunteering. She’s now president of its board of directors.

“I grew up in Greenville, Alabama,” Murphy reflects. “The black community got involved in civic activism because we had to, it was just what we did at home. It was a matter of life or death.”

Now, many residents of the east and west sides of Buffalo — two long-disinvested neighborhoods now feeling the squeeze of rising rents and property values — think that development in their city is a matter of life or death too.

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