Land Bank To Partner With Habitat For Humanity

The house at 35 Beckman Ave. in Westfield that will be rehabilitated.

For the first time, the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation will be working with Habitat For Humanity to rehabilitate a house.

Gina Paradis, Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation executive director, said the two organizations will be working to rehabilitate 35 Beckman Ave. in Westfield. She said the land bank provided the house to Habitat at a low price. She added that Habitat then will use $56,000 in materials to renovate the house.

”(Habitat) will totally gut it and rehab it for someone in their program,” Paradis said. ”We’ve been trying to find the right house for a Habitat For Humanity project for a couple years now, but they’ve always fell through. We are really, really excited to finally find the right house to (rehab) with them.”

David Kurzawa, Habitat For Humanity spokesman, said they share the same goals with the land bank of improving neighborhoods and providing decent affordable housing to working families in need.

”We are thrilled that the land bank is able to involve Habitat in its mission,” Kurzawa said. ”We work one house and one family at a time, and together we can do great things.”

In other business, the land bank board approved hiring Orbitist to help market their activities. Orbitist, which is located at the State University at Fredonia Technology Incubator, is a multimedia storytelling and original mapping platform business that works with organizations to promote points of interests with bite-sized video cards, photography, social media posts and digital maps.

Paradis said Orbitist will use GIS technology to market the land bank to attract funders and developers. She said they could use the mapping technology to analyze housing demolition and rehabilitation trends. She added Orbitist could provide video testimonials from homeowners who could discuss how the land bank helped them purchase and renovate their property.

”They will be working with us on a lot of data compilation and analytics to visually tell the story of the land bank’s impact over time,” she said.

The land bank board also accepted the resignation of Mark Geise as executive director. Geise was hired as the new economic development manager for Monroe County earlier this year. After accepting Geise’s resignation, the board than approved Paradis to be the new executive director. Paradis has been the administrative director for the land bank since its creation in 2012.

”I’m humbled by (the board’s) support and appreciation of my efforts over the last couple years,” Paradis said about the board promoting her to executive director. ”I have some big shoes to fill in that role. Mark (Geise) was the founding member of the organization and board. His loss will be felt by us. We are going to miss him. I’m looking forward to guiding the land bank in the future and, hopefully, we can do some new and innovative things too.”