Niagara Gazette — A small house on 16th Street with brown paint curling off its wood siding and the front steps rotting has sat vacant for years. Soon a group of young people searching for purpose will collectively breathe new air into the house and bring it back to life.
The Isaiah 61 Project, a nonprofit that trains underemployed and unemployed residents while rehabilitating houses to be sold to low-income families, announced last week that it will be taking on a second project house.
Dave Knoodle moved right next to the house on 16th Street with his wife Judith, who grew up here, in 2007.
Retired from the Army, Knoodle said the house has been empty since they moved in.
“It’s been that way since we got here,” he said.
Knoodle said he thinks the project — from the job training aspect to the positive momentum that renovating a vacant house can have on a neighborhood — is a great idea.
“It’s going to increase the value of the property,” he said. “It’s the only house on the street that’s that way.”
Last year the project bought its first house from the city. Since then the nonprofit and the city have worked together to identify houses they feel make good candidates for rehabilitation. The project and the city’s Community Development department — with the approval of the city’s planning board and city council — have established a list of houses that the project can buy for $500 whenever they feel prepared to take on another home.
Students of the program, their instructor from Niagara Orleans BOCES and a group of contractors who have volunteered their time and expertise to the organization – Mikellly Construction, H.W. Bryk & Sons Plumbing and Newman Electric – will soon descend on the house.
They will remove the things left from the previous owner, like the piano that still sits under a chandelier in an otherwise empty hallway, rip the old lath and plaster walls out and begin anew.