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Niagara Falls leaders detail plans to implement over $1.69 million in federal funds to respond to, prevent COVID-19

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Thu, Jul 16th 2020 07:10 pm

Congressman Brian Higgins and City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino were joined Thursday by Niagara Falls Housing Authority Director Clifford Scott and other municipal and community leaders to announce plans to deploy federal emergency funding in the City of Niagara Falls for COVID-19 relief, response and prevention.

Higgins said, “These allocations allow for locally driven decision-making on how federal resources can best be used to help communities during this pandemic. The need is urgent and great. We commend Niagara Falls for taking swift action. And we are continuing to fight for the additional funding Niagara Falls and Western New York needs and deserves for response to this national public health emergency.”

“The City of Niagara Falls appreciates the efforts of Congressman Higgins in helping us to provide much-needed financial assistance to agencies that have been on the front line helping some of the most vulnerable during the pandemic,” Restaino said. “This aid will allow these agencies to continue the important work they do for city residents. Congressman Higgins has continued to be a strong advocate for the needs of the residents in Niagara Falls and I thank him for his continued advocacy.”

The CARES Act, approved by the House of Representatives in March, included $5 billion in emergency funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, and $4 billion in emergency solutions grants (ESG) nationwide. The City of Niagara Falls was awarded over $2.5 million in emergency funding through the two programs.

This week, the Niagara Falls City Council approved Restaino’s initial distribution plan delivering the funds to meet community need.

The City of Niagara Falls received $699,724 in ESG COVID-19 funding in April and an additional $424,384 in June, for the purpose of addressing emergency housing needs of residents. The ESG program supports programs to assist the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless.

Emergency Solutions Grant COVID-19 (ESG-CV) funding will be distributed in the City of Niagara Falls as follows:

Agency

Amount

Proposed Activity

Catholic Charities

$448,590.00

Homelessness Intervention, Rental Assistance, Utility Assistance

Community Missions

$82,953.00

PPE, Emergency Shelter/Essential Services/Operational

Community Missions

$176,913.00

Homelessness Intervention RRH, Rental Assistance

Community Missions

$52,100.00

Emergency Shelter/Renovation

Pinnacle Community Service -(Passage House)

$47,965.00

Emergency Shelter/Essential Services

Pinnacle Community Service -(Casey House)

$61,706.00

Emergency Shelter/Essential Services

Pinnacle Community Service -(Casey House)

$80,011.00

PPE, Outreach

Neighborhood Legal Services Inc.

$38,866.00

Homelessness Intervention RRH, Legal Advocacy to prevent homelessness

Heart, Love & Soul Inc.

$125,000.00

PPE, outreach, coordinated entry, many activities indirectly linked to by Continuum of Care (CoC)

Total: $1,114,100

The City of Niagara Falls also received $1,403,659 in COVID-19 emergency funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. Under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, eligible cities, towns and counties are awarded CDBG resources to support local community development needs, such as affordable housing, infrastructure investment, and job creation. HUD provided guidance for eligible activities to support infectious disease response.

Initial distribution of Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 (CDBG-CV) Funding:

Agency

Amount

Proposed Activity

YWCA Carolyn’s House

$31,000.00

Playground

Niagara University - Niagara Falls Health Equity Task Force

$152,194.00

PPE, Outreach

Pinnacle Community Services (Casey House)

$159,028.00

Porch Project, create social distancing within shelter

Pinnacle Community Services (Passage House)

$39,021.88

Porch Project, create social distancing within shelter

Highland Clubhouse

$50,000.00

Highland Clubhouse Renovation, PPE, Outreach

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

$100,000.00

Know the signs suicide prevention due to COVID-19

Total Awarded: $531,243.88

Higgins and Restaino reiterated the need for additional state and local aid to be included in the next pandemic response package approved by Congress. The Heroes Act, approved by the House of Representatives over eight weeks ago, included an additional $3.4 million for Niagara Falls through the CDBG program, almost $2.8 million in ESG funding, and in excess of $171 million in direct aid to the City of Niagara Falls. The Senate has yet to take action on the Heroes Act or any other new emergency relief.

Funding for the CDBG and ESG programs are distributed through formulas based on data from the 2010 census.

A press release said, “Census numbers are vitally important to ensuring that communities, schools and families receive the federal resources they need. In 2014, the City of Niagara Falls nearly lost its over $2 million annual Community Development Block Grant funding after its reported population numbers fell below the 50,000 population threshold for CDBG recipients. Congressman Higgins was able to protect the City of Niagara Falls from losing that funding for parks, infrastructure and neighborhood improvements by winning approval of an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill. According to the 2020 census “Hard to Count” map, the census response rate in the City of Niagara Falls is currently at 53.6%. Residents are encouraged to respond by visiting my2020Census.gov.”

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