There is no denying that Buffalo has seen better days. In the past 50 years, the city has lost some of its key industries, and, consequently, nearly half of its population. The result: tens of thousands of abandoned buildings.
Last July, Barbara Reed, the mother of a firefighter who was seriously injured while putting out an arson fire, wrote a letter to the Buffalo News offering a "mother's cure" for the problem: Take Down a House. She challenged the citizens of Buffalo to donate their own money to tear down the houses that the city could not afford to demolish. "I'm angry as to why this had to happen," she writes. "The equation is simple. Old houses plus fire (arson) equals potential danger and tragedy."
Reed's letter gives a voice to some residents' overwhelming sense of frustration as the city has grappled to find a solution to the problem. Since 1995, the city has demolished nearly 5,000 abandoned structures in an effort to curb blight and arson, but it estimates that there are as many as 10,000 more that need to be demolished.
Last month, the city announced a "Five by Five" program it hopes will bring its vacancy rate closer to five percent within five years by demolishing 1,000 buildings a year, a rate close to three demolitions a day.
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