Buffalo West Side Environmental Defense Fund
The Buffalo West Side Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. (BWSEDF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to generate public awareness of environmental issues, to raise funds and to take other actions addressing quality of environment issues, all with a view towards improving the quality of the human environment and diminishing public health hazards in the West Side neighborhoods of Buffalo, New York.
Buffalo’s densely populated West Side is uniquely positioned between Lake Erie and the central business district. Unfortunately, it shares the same urban landscape with the Buffalo & Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority which is damaging to the environment and to the health of residents.
According to peer-reviewed medical research, Buffalo’s historic street pattern facilitates the migration of exhaust fumes from the Peace Bridge deep into the West Side, as it captures and distributes prevailing Lake Erie winds inland – making the Peace Bridge area an even worse place for heavy traffic.
The disproportionate distribution of commercial traffic passing through residential neighborhoods has created a community of environmental injustice. Research has found that rates of asthma and respiratory illness in neighborhoods downwind of the Peace Bridge Complex and major roadways feeding into it are four times higher than the national average.
Nearly 45% of West Side households reported at least one case of chronic respiratory illness or asthma. Over 22,000 residents have been diagnosed with chronic respiratory disease costing Erie County tax payers $170 million dollars annually. In 2011, Erie County spent 95% of property taxes collected to pay for Medicaid mandates.
Since August of 2007, some Prospect Hill neighborhoods have lived under the constant threat of eminent domain. Land marked properties such as the Hutchinson Chapel and historic properties like the Episcopal Church Home have fallen into severe disrepair while awaiting the new plans from the Peace Bridge. These abandoned properties impact the quality of life of residents while driving down the market value of stable housing.
Therefore, The BWSEDF will continue to assist residents of Prospect Hill in their effort to generate public awareness of environmental issues, raise funds and/or take other actions to restore quality of life issues in their community.