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Schumer Blasts Cuts To CDBG Program In Administration Budget Fights To Restore Funding

Under Proposal, NYS Would Loose $80 Million Would Have Devastating Effects On Upstate Communities

Schumer: CDBG Helps Our Communities Provide Good Jobs, Affordable Housing And Public Services

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched an effort to restore funding for the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) Program for communities in New York State, which is slashed in the Administrations budget proposal for fiscal year 2007. The CDBG Program is one of the most important and effective programs for revitalizing distressed communities and funds housing rehabilitation, support services, public improvements, and economic development projects in communities across the nation. The Presidents proposal to fund the national CDBG program at $2.9 billion, a 20% reduction from last year, will devastate communities nationwide. Under the proposal, New York alone would be in jeopardy of losing $80 million.

CDBG provides critical dollars to cities across New York, Schumer said. This is a program that helps America's mostdeserving communities create jobs, support local businesses, and keep our streets safe. CDBG is a lifeline to cities because many communities would not be able to find the funding or the flexibility they need without it. I'm going to fight tooth and nail to restore this funding.

In a personal letter to Senator Judd Gregg, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget, and Senator Kent Conrad, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Budget, Schumer wrote, CDBG is one of the most effective Federal domestic programs to revitalize neighborhoods with proven results. It is vital that New York State retain its level CDBG funding in order to continue the many community development services that its citizens have come to rely upon. Therefore I urge the Senate Budget Committee to fully restore funding to the Community Development Block Grant Program.

CDBG funding has allowed communities throughout upstate New York to fund critical community development projects. These cuts would result in mayors and local officials having to cut the staff that facilitates public service and facilitate public works programs and having to eliminate several community development programs altogether.

In Rochester, CDBG funding is primarily used for low income housing programs, and for lead paint reduction and economic development. The proposed cuts put Rochester in jeopardy of losing more than $1 million. Monroe County uses CDBG funds to rehab housing, for community service programs, economic development loans and grants for public works and facilities improvements, and will have to scale back project funding as a result of the proposed cuts.

Binghamton heavily relies upon CDBG to finance additional police and code officers, and stand to lose well over $300,000 of their funding. Even worse, if the funding to the CDBG program is not restored, Binghamton would have to raise property taxes to make up for its funding loss.

The North Buffalo Community Center has a very strong, active senior citizen population that takes advantage of its many programs, which include full lunches, exercise programming, health and blood pressure checks, night events, and a van service which regularly brings in seniors from suburban areas. Over the past four or five years, it has sustained large cuts, resulting in a loss of most of its youth programming, as well as cuts to staff and senior programming. Under the proposed cut, its senior programming will shrink and seniors will find themselves without any other reason to leave their homes. On the East side of Buffalo, Pratt / Willert Community Center has been zeroed out due to the CDBG cuts. The Center serves one of the poorest communities in the city of Buffalo, offering senior and youth programming, and serving as a suspended school reporting site for the Buffalo Public Schools. Buffalo, as a whole, stands to lose $3 million of federal funds.

In Onondaga County, CDBG fund many projects including housing, water lines, sewers, parks and libraries. Under the proposed cuts, they could see a 30 % reduction in funding, resulting in less projects and staff.

The budget cuts equate to a $1 million din lost funds to the City of Albany. This would force the city to reduce services, such as after school programs for inner city youth, housing rehabilitation for low and moderate income families, housing for the homeless and force the city to lay off 48 community development staff. Schenectady could get a 29 % cut in funds, forcing a reduction in funds for community police officers, drug abuse resistance officers, street paving after winter storms, nonprofit agencies, small business loans, and services for the poor. Troy used some CDBG funding to bring homes up to fire code. These cuts would result in mayors and local officials having to cut the staff that facilitates public service and facilitate public works programs and having to eliminate several community development programs altogether.

Plattsburgh relies on the CDBG program and have used $650,000 to renovate housing and commercial units downtown to create affordable rents for low income individuals. Without this program they would have to charge rents that would not be affordable. Since 1990 the city has created the Street of Dreams which started as 1420 units in downtown Plattsburgh and is now all affordable housing. They have also benefited from the first time homebuyers program which renovates dilapidated single family homes so low and middle income families can buy homes. They stand to get no CDBG funding next year. Saint Lawrence County could loose funding for their low income first time home buyers program, for housing rehabilitation projects and economic development packages.

Last year, Westchester County was forced to eliminate over $1 million for rehabilitation of affordable housing administered by the county due to cuts to their CDBG funding. Dutchess County uses CDBG to fund senior citizen rehabilitation programs which annually provides up to $15,000 to help income eligible seniors correct code violations in their homes. As it stands now, cuts to Dutchess County CDBG funds would mean this program would most likely need to be shut down. The cuts are just as deep in other parts of the Hudson Valley, with Orange and Rockland Counties receiving approximately 23 % less than they did last year.

CDBG funds are particularly important to communities throughout New York State, Schumer said. Cuts in CDBG would mean that public service programs, economic development programs and emergency repair housing projects throughout the state would go unfunded. It is unacceptable to force communities to bear this burden.

HUD is the federal department principally responsible for community economic development. CDBG is the centerpiece of the Federal governments efforts to help states and localities meet the needs of lowincome communities. The CDBG program was established to foster the undertaking of housing and community development activities in a coordinated and mutually supportive manner by federal agencies and programs, as well as by communities. HUDs community development programs, coupled with HUDs housing and homeless programs and supportive services, provide our communities with a comprehensive approach to serving the needs of residents. CDBG is the glue that holds other Federal programs serving lowincome communities together.