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Amid an Uncertain Future, the Hostel Continues Operations but Needs Our Help

Updated: Feb 22

(EDITOR’S NOTE — The following is a very important story for our scene and our city. We ask that you give it a read and do whatever you can. Learn more at the Hostel's LINKTREE HERE on how you can help. You can also open the QR code on the Heart graphic below. There is also a graphic at the bottom of this page showing the extent of the structural problem. Thank you. — Photos by Benjamin Joe/1120 Press - front; and Matt Smith/1120 Press - below)

 


The Buffalo Hostel is crawling its way out of danger, but it’s not out of the woods yet.


Hostel officials have been living with uncertainty since November 2023 when they were informed

of a meeting two months prior at which

their landlords — Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, headed by Mayor Byron Brown — discussed possible eviction.

 

The problem: The structure behind and connected to the Hostel, also owned by BURA, is a safety hazard, and must be repaired or knocked down. According to Buffalo’s Investigative Post, BURA was considering either rehabilitating the building or demolishing it and possibly evicting the Hostel in the process.

 

Later, BURA voted to repair the safety hazard.


But according to Katherine Pessecow, a board member and chair of community engagement for the Buffalo Hostel, communication with the city continues to be a problem even as the organization has been scrambling to find developers who will partner with it to redevelop the property.


“We have some big opportunities coming up, but we still want to hear from the city because, at the same time, if they wanted us closed, they could close us,” she said.

 

Those “big opportunities” couldn’t be identified as of the date of t his interview, but Pessecow said they were quite sizable and that the parties involved understood the value of the Hostel as a destination.

 

Some of what the Hostel needs to know, according to Pessecow, is quite daunting. She noted there is still the impending March deadline for eviction hanging above its head, as well as the total amount of back-rent owed.

 

“We don’t know what they expect of us, we don’t know what they’d like to do with the space and how we could raise the amount of funds either to contribute to what they’re doing, or just come up with a permanent solution,” Pessecow said. “We want this story to be a success, for us, the City of Buffalo, the people, the performers that come, the

visitors that come from around the world and around the corner.

 

“We want to make this a success story of a time when Buffalo pulled together to make the Hostel work.”

 

The non-profit has attracted more than 6,000 international visitors to Buffalo, and also returns to the area a positive financial impact of more than $1 million annually.

 

One of the things people may not know, Pessecow said, is that the Hostel is also a “culture and arts center.”

 

“Not only do we hold services for our Hostel program for people from out of town, we also do things for everyone in our own backyard,” she said. “We’re right on Main Street, right in the middle of West Side, East Side. South Buffalo is right around the corner. This is really a destination … but our demographics show we have people from all over Buffalo who enjoy our arts and culture events.”

 

From music and performative groups to meditative groups and yoga, there’s something for everyone, Pessecow said.

 

For now, the Hostel remains operating and plans to continue, despite the limbo in which it now hangs. As such, it encourages people to contact their local legislator to tell them to keep the Hostel where it is, and also to buy lawn signs — (giant hearts that say “Save Our Hostel” on them) — to show how far the reach of this “cultural center” extends into the area.

 

“We are not just a place for travelers,” Pessecow said. “We’re a place for people in Buffalo to experience Buffalo.”



 



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