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Environmental justice forum focuses on a healthier Buffalo

ej forum

Published May 24, 2013

“This forum will showcase the on-the-ground work being done by SUNY Buffalo Law School students and faculty that’s changing lives here in Buffalo while becoming a model for next-generation environmental justice elsewhere in the nation.”
Kim Diana Connolly, Director
Healthy Homes Legal Practicum, UB Law School

Local activists, academics, community organizers and federal experts will exchange ideas toward making Western New York’s homes and communities healthier at a daylong environmental justice forum on April 26.

The gathering, titled “An Environmental Justice Forum for Buffalo Homes and Neighborhoods,” will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Research Center, 875 Ellicott St.

Matthew Tejada, recently installed as director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice, will open the forum. William J. Hochul '94, US attorney for the Western District of New York, will discuss the importance of enforcement in addressing healthy homes matters. Other presenters include environmental justice experts from the EPA’s headquarters offices, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The program’s sponsors include SUNY Buffalo Law School and its Healthy Homes Legal Practicum, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo’s Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, Neighborhood Legal Services, UB’s Civic Engagement and Public Policy Research Initiative and the UB Office of Sustainability.

Students participating in the Law School practicum provide legal support to the National Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, which has chosen Buffalo as one of 17 pilot cities for its work in promoting safer housing. Among the work produced by practicum students is 36-page publication called “A Neighborhood’s Continuing Evolution: An Environmental Justice Walking Tour of Buffalo, NY’s West Side.”

Professor Kim Diana Connolly, who directs the Law School’s clinical program and is one of three instructors of the practicum, says of the conference: “This forum will showcase the on-the-ground work being done by SUNY Buffalo Law School students and faculty that’s changing lives here in Buffalo while becoming a model for next-generation environmental justice elsewhere in the nation.”

The conference recognizes the presence, especially in the City of Buffalo, of an aging and deteriorating housing stock, environmentally unhealthy conditions in many neighborhoods, as well as high poverty and unemployment rates. Many families live in homes or communities that are unhealthy, unsafe and not energy-efficient.

Though local groups have been working to address these problems, their efforts are incompletely coordinated. The forum seeks to begin to develop “a truly sustainable strategy for healthy homes and communities that can become a model for other cities.”

SUNY Buffalo Law School will offer 2.0 free non-transitional CLE credits in the area of Professional Practice.to lawyers who attend the forum. The Law School has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board as an Accredited Provider of continuing legal education in the State of New York for the period of March 11, 2011 - March 10, 2014. For further information on the Law School’s CLE policy, contact Lisa Mueller at 645-3176.