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Higgins wins approval for amendment to protect community development block grant funds to Niagara Falls

by jmaloni

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Thu, Jun 12th 2014 04:35 pm

Congressman's effort saves more than $2.2 million for City of Niagara Falls

Earlier this week, Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, won approval in the House of Representatives for an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill that will protect more than $2.2 million in federal funding to the City of Niagara Falls. The Higgins amendment was included in the final bill approved.

The community development block grant program - under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - authorizes resources to support local community development needs, such as construction of affordable housing, infrastructure investment and job creation.

Under the provisions of the program, only municipalities with populations of 50,000 or greater are eligible to receive a direct, annual allocation through the community block grant program. The most recent population estimates through the U.S. Census Bureau put the City of Niagara Falls just under that standard, at 49,722 (2012).

Higgins' amendment says none of the funds under the THUD bill may be used to terminate the status of CDBG entitlement communities, which includes Niagara Falls. The congressman noted the importance of the amendment on the House Floor:

"Mr. Speaker, I am grateful that yesterday the House adopted my amendment to prevent communities that have experienced recent population loss from being excluded from the community development block grant program. 

"Since the creation of the community development block grant program in 1974, HUD has designated 'entitlement communities,' which included cities with a population of at least 50,000. For 40 years, HUD has allowed cities that have had their population's fall below 50,000 to continue to participate in the program.

"Unfortunately, HUD signaled a desire to change course and to remove these cities from the program. This would have devastated 127 cities in 31 states, including the City of Niagara Falls in my congressional district. The community development block grant has become a foundation for community and economic development across the nation and in Western New York. 

"I am pleased that communities who rely on this funding will continue to have access to this critical resource."

Mayor Paul Dyster said, "The City of Niagara Falls sincerely thanks Congressman Brian Higgins for his proactive leadership and sponsorship of this amendment. Our city relies on CDBG funds to deliver essential community projects and services every year. Yet again, Congressman Higgins helping to ensure that transformative change continues in Niagara Falls."

"This amendment will provide Niagara Falls with the resources necessary to make our community a place where more people choose to live and work," added City Council Chairman Charles Walker. "I applaud Congressman Higgins for his work on this issue."

Niagara Falls is one of several municipalities in Higgins' district that receives federal funding through the CDBG program.

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