04.21.15

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND URGE FEDS TO EXTEND DEADLINE FOR COMPLETION OF BUFFALO HOUSING PROJECTS; UNFORSEEN CHALLENGES AND NEW HUD RULES HAVE DELAYED CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE – FAILURE TO GRANT EXTENSION PUTS VITAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS IN JEOPARDY

Schumer, Gillibrand Say the City of Buffalo Needs an 8-Month Extension From HUD To Complete Vital Community Housing Projects; City Could Lose Millions in Funding if Program Expenditure Period is Not Extended

 

City is Making Solid Progress on Projects, But Delays, Including the Loss of 2013 Construction Season Due to Bureaucratic Changes Mandated By HUD, Require an Extended Timeline

 

Schumer, Gillibrand to HUD: Grant This Extension And Let Buffalo Finish The Job On Important Community Housing Projects

 

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to extend the HOME Investment Partnership Program expenditure period for the City of Buffalo. Schumer and Gillibrand said that the program is set to expire June 30, 2015 but should be extended for eight months, until February 29, 2016, due to the fact that many projects were delayed by unforeseen circumstances. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that the funds to finance numerous community projects were authorized through the HOME Program in FY 2010 and included the construction, purchase, and rehabilitation of several affordable housing projects. A number of projects could be in jeopardy, including a 10 unit senior housing project for low- and very low-income senior citizens, a joint project between Mount Aaron Missionary Baptist Church and Community HOPE Builders CDC, Inc. The Senators said that the extension of this expenditure period under the HOME program would allow the City to fund the completion of these projects, which were delayed as a result of new mandates made by HUD back in 2012 and 2013 that led to these unforeseen delays. Giving the city an 8-month extension would ensure the completion of these projects, which are vital to middle- and low-income residents in Buffalo.

 

“In order to finish the construction, purchase, and rehabilitation of several vital affordable housing projects, the City of Buffalo needs an extension of the HOME Investment Partnership Program to get these projects across the finish line,” said Senator Schumer. “The bottom line is that we need a little flexibility to achieve a whole lot of affordability. Ironically, it is new bureaucratic HUD rules which helped delay progress, so it makes all the sense in the world for HUD to grant an extension so Buffalo can complete these projects. By giving Buffalo a little extra time, HUD can ensure these projects are finished with the proper due diligence they deserve and will benefit middle- and low-income residents in Buffalo.”

 

“The HOME Investment Partnership Program’s funding should not be left to expire when so many Buffalo families can be helped by the affordable housing options the program is working to create,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The entire community benefits when families have access to safe, affordable places to live and Buffalo should be granted more time to finish this important work that will help residents throughout the city.”

 

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that, in 2010, the City of Buffalo received funds through HUD’s HOME Program for a five year period. However, in 2012, HUD mandated that the City of Buffalo transfer all drawdown capabilities from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) to municipality proper. Until this transition was complete, however, HUD prohibited the City of Buffalo from committing HOME funds. This meant the City could not expend these funds for eight months, which resulted in the city missing the entire 2013 construction season. Schumer and Gillibrand said if this funding is not extended the City could lose millions.

 

Another challenge arose when changes to the HOME regulations took effect in August 2013. Specifically, HUD changed the staffing requirements for organizations to qualify as a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDOs). As a result, CHDOs the City of Buffalo had previously worked with were unable to make timely, necessary changes in order to qualify under the new requirements. Schumer and Gillibrand said the implementation of these new regulations weakened Buffalo’s ability to complete HOME projects by the original deadline. Furthermore, the Senators said these new regulations hindered the start of new projects that would have aided helped Buffalo meet the expenditure deadline.

 

Schumer and Gillibrand said that although Buffalo made a strong effort to meet the expenditure deadline, these unforeseen challenges proved too problematic to overcome within the allotted time frame. Therefore, Schumer and Gillibrand are urging HUD to extend the expenditure deadline by eight months to ensure Buffalo can complete crucial affordable housing projects. As a result, Schumer and Gillibrand said, an eight month extension will allow the City to fund the completion of these projects, which are a major benefit to the city and the entire community.

 

HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program provides financial assistance to states and localities in the form of formula grants. HOME is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments that are exclusively for the creation of affordable housing for low-income households. Formula grants, like HOME, permit state and local governments to use the funds for grants, direct loans, loan guarantees, or rental assistance or security deposits. HOME grants constitute the largest portion of entitlement grants apportioned to BURA after Community Development Block Grants.

 

Below are the projects where there will be HOME expenditures during the extension period the City is requesting from HUD:

 

NEW PROJECTS                           

Saving Grace - $1,500,000

Mount Aaron - $1,453,950

PUSH - $375,000

160 Brunswick - $410,279

245 Dearborn - $415,150

174 east - $261,000

Matt Urban -  South Ryan - $239,500

Matt Urban -  Fillmore - $677,800

Block by Block - $1,634,909

TOTAL: $6,967,588

 

PROJECTS BEING CLOSED OUT                    

Riverside Special Needs Housing - $150,000

Mariner Townhouses Rental Rehab - $81,750

PUSH 335 Massachusetts NC Rental - $274,290

St John Fruitbelt Townhouses            - $538,497

Hertel Park Senior Apartments - $70,000

Grace House Lodging House II - $56,659

TOTAL: 1,171,196

 

A copy of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter to Secretary of HUD Julian Castro appears below:

 

Dear Secretary Castro,

 

We write to you on behalf of the City of Buffalo, New York, to respectfully request an extension for Buffalo’s FY 2010 HOME expenditure. With the original deadline of June 30, 2015 quickly approaching, we are requesting that an extension until February 29, 2016 be granted to the City of Buffalo.

 

In 2012, HUD mandated that the City of Buffalo transfer all drawdown capabilities from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) to municipality proper. Buffalo prioritized the transition and properly completed it within eight months. Throughout the eight month period, Buffalo was prohibited from committing HOME funds, causing the City to lose the 2013 construction season. The loss of construction on the new HOME funded projects has made it difficult to meet the original 2010 expenditure deadline.

 

Another challenge arose when changes to the HOME regulations took effect in August 2013. Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDO’s) that the City of Buffalo had previously worked with were unable to make timely, necessary changes in order to qualify as CHDO’s under the new requirements. Furthermore, the implementation of new regulations hindered new projects from starting that would have aided in the City’s ability to meet the expenditure deadline.

 

The City of Buffalo has made a strong effort to meet this deadline, but faced some unforeseen challenges. Without the extension a number of important community projects, serving local residents, will be in jeopardy. An eight month extension will allow the City to fund the completion of these projects, which are a major benefit to the city and the entire community. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

 

Kristen Gillibrand

United States Senator

 

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