LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — Joel Martinez lost everything when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last fall.
"It was devastating there. No electricity, no water," said Martinez.
Martinez's daughter travelled to Puerto Rico and brought her parents back to Buffalo in need of a fresh start. On Monday, Martinez and his wife helped cut the ribbon at the Ridgeway Commons, a new affordable housing complex in Lackawanna, where the couple now calls home.
"My wife, seeing for the first time, that apartment, she said, ‘This is mine. This is amazing,’" said Martinez.
The Ridgeway Commons is made up of 32 units for low-income residents and boasts a common area and playground. It's the brainchild of the state and the nonprofit Community Services for Every1.
"The Oishei Foundation did a study a few years ago asking residents of Lackawanna what was an important thing they needed in their community. Most people who responded said that housing was a high-priority need in this area," said Community Services for Every1 CEO Mindy Cervoni.
Eight of the units are specially designed for those with disabilities and include special amenities, like in the kitchen, where the appliances are set lower for wheelchair accessibility.
"All the units are accessible so if someone has a mobility impairment, a hearing impairment, the units meet all those standards," said Cervoni.
Twenty of the apartments are spoken for and the Ridgeway is still taking applications for the remaining 12. So there are still opportunities for people like the Martinez family, who want to live a better life at a fair price.
"I believe this is a miracle from God to us. I'm happy," said Martinez.