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Higgins announces nearly $5 million in Community Development Block Grant funding

by jmaloni

Press release

Thu, Aug 1st 2013 02:45 pm

Bill cutting program by 50 percent in 2014 is pulled from House agenda 

Funds Awarded to Towns of Amherst and Tonawanda, Erie County

Congressman Brian Higgins, NY-26, announced the Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $509,174 in Community Development Block Grant funding to the Town of Amherst, $1,529,726 in CDBG funding to the Town of Tonawanda, and $2,756,253 to Erie County.

"These awards to the towns of Amherst and Tonawanda illustrate the value and importance of CDBG funding to local communities," said Congressman Higgins. "It is critical that we fight to make sure that local communities, like ours in Western New York, can continue to receive assistance with fulfilling basic needs, like economic development and job creation."

This announcement comes as this week the House of Representatives was scheduled to consider the fiscal year 2014 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, which would reduce the CDBG funding allocated by nearly 50 percent - from more than $3 billion down to $1.6 billion nationwide.

Higgins has been an ardent fighter against the deep cuts to CDBG, which provides resources to Western New York communities. In April and again in June, he joined other members in sending letters to committee leadership expressing concern about CDBG cuts and urging the program funding be restored to $3.3 billion for FY2014. Last week and this week, Higgins spoke from the House Floor to warn of the impact of this cut.

Below are the congressman's most recent remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the 50 percent cut in the Community Development Block Grant program in the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bill currently being considered. This cut is reckless and punitive to communities in need.

"This year, Western New York communities are scheduled to receive a total of $22.2 million, which they plan to use to improve public infrastructure, policing facilities, fund economic development initiatives. The bill before us cut that funding in half to $11 million next year.

"Cutting Community Development Block Grant funding is completely counterproductive and will cost the country in the long-term. These cuts will erode community revitalization and job creation, only adding to the financial burden on our federal budget in the long run.

"I urge the House to reject these cuts to our communities and defeat this shortsighted bill."

In addition to CDBG cuts, Western New York would have been impacted by additional negative components of the legislation, including:

No funding for National Infrastructure Investment (TIGER) grants, and a $237 million rescission of 2013 funding;

No funding for Choice Neighborhood Program, and $120 million in 2013 funding rescinded (Buffalo's Perry Choice Neighborhood Initiative is one of 17 projects in the nation);

A 30 percent cut in HOME Investment Partnership funding (Erie County, Amherst, Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Hamburg, Tonawanda and Niagara Falls received $4.5 million through this program in 2012);

A 58 percent cut to the Health Homes and Lead Hazard Control Grant program (Erie County received $2.375 million from HUD for lead prevention in 2011. Eight zip codes in the City of Buffalo are rated areas of concern by the state Health Department).

After resistance from Higgins, and other members of the House, to support the bill, Republican leadership pulled the legislation from immediate consideration.

CDBG funding supports local community development needs, such as construction of affordable housing, infrastructure investment, and job creation. Recent projects in Western New York funded by CDBG include: demolition of seven blighted, vacant properties in the City of Lackawanna; infrastructure improvements, including road resurfacing and sidewalk installation in the Town of Tonawanda; rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing through low-cost loans in the Town of Cheektowaga; and rehabilitation to seven community center, 15 parks and sidewalks on 20 streets in the City of Buffalo.

In 2012, communities in Higgins' congressional district received approximately $21 million through the CDBG program.

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