Where are we? Where do we want to go? We can understand our situation better and make decisions about the future more confidently if we look at objective data that spans across our whole region and extends over time.
We are working to answer questions about our region and will share what we learn here as we move One Region Forward.
Imagine how much more vibrant and prosperous our region could be in 2050 if we actually grew by 265,000 people. But what would this future look like if we continued to build most of our homes on open land disconnected from older neighborhoods? What types of homes would we build, where would we build them and what would it mean for the neighborhoods we call home today?
If trends from the past were to continue for the next forty years, what might Buffalo Niagara look like?
Will we continue to lose people and jobs, but use more land across the region? will we continue to build new homes and abandon others while losing farmland?
Currently, the region grows only 38 percent of the fruits and vegetables our population would need to consume to follow the USDA’s healthy-eating guidelines. Yet, there are abundant opportunities to increase our self-reliance. Nearly 800,000 acres in Buffalo Niagara has soil suitable for farming.
As the development of new housing, commercial establishments, and employment centers have sprawled out away from our region’s core, we have been forced to construct 525 miles of new roads over the past two decades. The road maintenance costs alone for this new infrastructure exceeds $26 million per year.
Vacancy is often thought of as a city problem. However, as new development has sprawled over the last several decades, population has declined, and new home construction has vastly outstripped household formation vacancy has followed close behind – steadily affecting more suburban and exurban areas and eroding the sustainability of our entire region.
Our region has an especially rich agricultural heritage. However, since 1970, the Buffalo-Niagara region has lost over 1,250 working farms, and nearly 160 square miles of farmland. This loss affects the health and sustainability of our region.
When we look at one of the most common measurements of housing affordability – the percent of residents who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs – we see a very different picture for our region’s homeowners versus our renters.
New “What the Data Tells Us” Stories will be added regularly to this section.