AFTER ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES CUT TO ONE OF SOUTHERN TIER’S MOST IMPORTANT FED PROGRAMS, SCHUMER VOWS TO FIGHT FOR FULL FUNDING IN CONGRESS TO PRESERVE IT – FED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM HAS BEEN CRITICAL TO DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS, INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS; CUTS COULD SLOW PROGRESS
Administration Proposed Cutting $200 Million from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program In Upcoming Fiscal Year – Binghamton, Elmira & Ithaca Combined Received a Combined $3.5 Million Alone in 2014 & It Is A Major Driver In Local Development Projects
CDBG Has Helped Southern Tier Municipalities Fund Transformational Development Projects – The City of Binghamton Has Used CDBG Funding for Neighborhood Housing Initiatives, Including Blighted Property Demolition; The City of Elmira for Public Infrastructure Upgrades, Including Making Sidewalks Handicap Accessible; And The City of Ithaca to Invest in Services Like Local Job-Training Programs
Schumer: Protecting CDBG Funding Is Critical to Cities Like Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his push to preserve federal funding for one of the Southern Tier region’s most important federal programs that the administration proposed cutting in its Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Schumer said the proposed $200 million cut to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program would be damaging to municipalities like Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca, and Schumer said he will make preserving funding for the CDBG program a priority in this Congress. The CDBG program provides the Cities of Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca, as well as other municipalities like it around New York and the nation, with critical funding for transformative and unique development projects. Schumer said that these three cities received a combined more than $3.5 million in CDBG funding alone in 2014, and cuts to the program could hinder many of the projects underway as well as ones it hopes to launch over the next few months and years. Schumer cited development projects like the City of Binghamton’s park improvements, public infrastructure upgrades, and blighted housing demolition initiatives as prime examples of how this funding has been used in the past and can continue to be used. In the City of Elmira, Schumer cited local projects like improvements to public streets, upgrades to make sidewalks handicap accessible in areas downtown, and neighborhood development initiatives to build low-income housing units around the city as evidence of this funding’s previous success. In the City of Ithaca, Schumer cited the city’s Hospitality Training Program’s efforts to prepare young, unemployed residents for jobs in the growing hospitality industry, the State Route 13 Safe Pedestrian Crossings project, as well as further initiatives to assist homeowners in making their homes energy efficient; these were all funded through the CDBG program. Schumer said any cut in the national funding level would likely lower the dollar amount these three Southern Tier municipalities receive, and that is unacceptable when the funding is doing so much good.
“Funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant program has triggered key improvements in cities like Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca over the past several years; without this federal funding, many local development projects might not be here today. These Southern Tier municipalities—as well as many smaller cities across New York State and the country—rely on these funds for a wide range of housing initiatives, development plans, and downtown revitalization projects that continue to be a boon for the local economy. That is why we must make sure the CDBG program is fully funded,” said Senator Schumer. “A $200 million cut nationwide could have a real impact on projects underway or yet to begin in these types of Southern Tier cities. This program is too important to let funding levels slip, and I will be leading the charge in Congress to preserve the funding level so cities like Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca that rely on it can continue to benefit from it.”
“CDBG funds are critical to revitalizing Binghamton’s neighborhoods and improving quality of life. Cuts to our CDBG allocation would slow the progress we’ve made on important community projects such as park improvements, blighted property demolitions and public infrastructure investments. Cuts would also disproportionately impact our low-income and elderly residents, which is unacceptable. I appreciate Senator Schumer’s efforts on the front lines of this issue and advocating in Congress for Binghamton’s share of federal dollars,” said Richard David, City of Binghamton Mayor.
“The CDBG program is vital for small urban communities like the City of Elmira who have a limited tax base with 38 % of properties tax-exempt yet significant rates of poverty and quality of life issues that impact our neighborhoods,” said Kim Middaugh, Elmira City Manager. “The fluctuating appropriation levels combined with the oversight that is required to administer the CDBG program, lessens the impact that can be made with CDBG funds invested in Elmira. Further reductions to the CDBG Program will have a disastrous impact on community development efforts and the City of Elmira applauds efforts to stabilize this critical funding.”
“Continued robust CDBG funding is essential for the City of Ithaca to meet pressing community development needs, especially to expand affordable housing and to reduce unemployment,” said Nels Bohn, Director of Community Development for the City of Ithaca.
According to HUD, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. The CDBG program funds affordable housing projects, provides services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and creates jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses. The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1,209 general units of local government and States. Schumer said these grants are critical for the Cities of Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca as well as many other small cities like it across the state and country because they are capable of funding the kinds of business development, housing, and revitalization projects that have the potential to be a boon to the local and regional economies.
CDBG is facing a $200 million cut in FY2016, and Schumer said this cut could threaten major development programs in small cities like these and others across New York State. Binghamton received approximately $1,776,514 in CDBG funding in 2014, and this program has helped fund many of the development projects downtown and across the city. The City of Elmira received approximately $1,079,191 in CDBG funding in 2014, and the City of Ithaca received approximately $675,538 in 2014. In 2014 alone, these three cities received a combined $3,531,243.
In particular, Schumer said the CDBG program has helped fund the City of Binghamton’s park improvements, public infrastructure upgrades, and blighted housing demolition initiatives as prime examples of how this funding has been used in the past and can continue to be used. Specifically, in 2014, the City of Binghamton received $4.5 million in federal CDBG funds to improve public infrastructure, including the milling and paving of 11 miles of road, the maintenance and resurfacing of 9.2 miles of road, and the full street reconstruction of 1.7 miles of Riverside Drive. The City of Binghamton also received $161,525 to demolish eight blighted properties within the city to make way for redevelopment and neighborhood housing projects. Finally, Binghamton received $97,000 to improve Columbus Park by installing a 10,000 foot square food spray pad designed for summertime recreation. In 2014, the City of Elmira received $201,00 for needed public infrastructure improvements to streets and to make sidewalks in the downtown area handicap accessible. The city also received $175,000 to build low-income housing units around the city as a part of its Improve Elmira’s Existing Housing Stock project. Finally, it received $101,000 from the CDBG program to help fund public service activities to assist youth centers and provide operating costs for the city’s Homeless Shelter. In 2014, the City of Ithaca received $82,000 for its Hospitality Employment Training Program, which works to prepare unemployed young people for jobs in the area’s growing local hospitality industry; the program provides classroom skills development and certifications, on-the-job training and job placement assistance. Ithaca also received $143,000 for the State Route 13 Safe Pedestrian Crossings project to construct safe pedestrian crossings across the busy Route 13 at two locations to safely connect the community to the waterfront trail and shopping destinations. Finally, Ithaca received $100,000 in CDBG funds to assist low-income homeowners in making their homes energy efficient through its Homeowner Rehabilitation plan. The CDBG program was a critical source of funding for all of these major initiatives.
Schumer said this kind of business and neighborhood development could be significantly hindered if funding for the CDBG program is slashed. While Congress typically requests a higher CDBG funding amount than the Administration, Schumer said the program has still been cut a total of $78 million since FY2013, and the trend toward cutting the program each year could put crucial development projects at risk. As a result, Schumer announced he will be pushing back against these proposed cuts and has vowed to fight to protect federal programming that is critical to Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca, such as CDBG funds.
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