Save the Hostel

by / Mar. 14, 2017 4pm EST

Money does not build a community, love does! I work at the Hostel Buffalo-Niagara and I love this city with every fiber of my being. Former mayor Anthony Masiello dubbed the hostel another building block in the foundation of Buffalo’s renaissance. For over 20 years, Hostel Buffalo-Niagara has accommodated over 6,000 domestic and international travelers every year. We kept the lights on when Main Street was empty, and now as it begins to bustle we are prepared to thrive and bring the city back to glory. If the hostel was under your radar, now is the time to pay attention. 

As of February 1, 2017, 667 Main Street was put up for sale by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Association, mostly due to the back half of the building that was left by the city in negligent disrepair. We have continued to maintain and improve the Hostel since the initial city investment of $1.5 million in 1995. The walls are pulsing with vibrant murals, a time capsule-worthy collection of event posters from the past 20 years, and nuggets of Buffalo history everywhere to welcome visitors to the unbridled passion we feel for this city. The hostel’s lease will end in July 2021. We need stay here forever, not for just four short years! 

We do not want the building to fall into the hands of big money developers who see this space as a dollar sign, and not as the beautiful community space it really is. Help us control our own destiny. We want to continue serving the public and raising the bar for low-priced hospitality, accessibility, and sustainability. Buffalo cannot lose our only hostel! Our goal is to develop the back building for affordable extended stay housing and other cultural opportunities. I see infinite possibilities. Do not let gentrification take away our city’s heartbeat, we do not need more luxury lofts or overpriced restaurants. Protect the people, true culture, and flavor of what makes our city so spectacular. 

We are a non-profit landing pad and safe space for travelers and community activists as well as a vital cultural and economic asset to the City of Buffalo and Western New York. We host a wide range of beautiful humanity, people from every country imaginable: backpackers, touring cyclists, veterans, Girl Scouts, international students, refugees, doctors, law students taking the bar exam, Finnish folk dancers, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, entire families, circus performers, musicians, artists, and even Vermin Supreme! All of them have shared meals, adventures, and stories of home and their journies. Travel enriches lives. Buffalo needs to remain a viable and accessible destination.

This is more than just a place to stay, we make real connections with our guests that last a lifetime! People are coming to us to see Niagara Falls but end up falling in love with Buffalo and all its breathtaking charm. Hostel employees are cultural ambassadors, we share the secret gems and local favorites, we are all Buffalonians with a passion for our home. We are in a prime location for guests in the heart of the Theatre District. Right out the door there is instant entertainment, libations, awesome architecture, the waterfront and Canalside, and easy-to-find transportation.

We directly collaborate with cultural organizations such as the Buffalo Infringement Festival, Food Not Bombs, GOBike Buffalo, Waste Not Want Not, Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, the Wash Project, and many more. We host a variety of entertainment, from poetry and bike breakfasts outside to music in the stairwells, ping pong tournaments, dance parties, movie nights, a vegan Thanksgiving celebration of indigenous peoples, the Box Gallery’s art openings, and Curtain Up Buffalo.

This is more than just a job to me, this place changed my life and opened my eyes to a world of endless wonder and wanderlust. I am proud to water the plants and scrub the toilets here. I am painting a mural on the wall, I cook here, I treat this place as if it was my own house and these people are my friends. I once salsa danced with a Columbian clown/acrobat in the lobby and thought “Wow this is the best job on earth.” I have played chess with strangers who didn’t even speak English, listened to their music, heard about their families, their hopes, dreams, and fears. We have laughed and even cried together. I’ve seen groups of people that have never met before borrow bikes and explore. Magic is the only word I can use to describe hostel life. 

Proposals are due to the city on March 15, but it is not too late! What can you do to help us? We need your voice! Please attend the first general public Friends of the Hostel Meeting at Hostel Buffalo Niagara (667 Main Street) on Monday, March 20 at 7:30pm. We will be serving free food from Food Not Bombs and Waste Not Want Not. Please share the link to our GoFundMe to help pay for legal fees, architectural plans, and the future renovation costs. You can also contact Mayor Byron Brown and let him know the hostel needs to stay! This is just the beginning, together we will SAVE THE HOSTEL!