National and Local Advocates Come Together to Discuss Challenges Facing Older Cities
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), co-chair of the Congressional Revitalizing Older Cities Task Force, announced today that the federal task force is planning its first field hearing in Western New York on August 15, 2008. During the hearing members and staff associated with the Task Force will hear testimony that discusses how federal initiatives can be improved or introduced to better meet the challenges faced by older industrial cities.
“Regions like ours across the nation are facing unique challenges related to a changing economy, deteriorating housing stock and outdated infrastructure,” said Congressman Higgins. “This is a great opportunity for Western New York to directly influence national policies that can help create change that benefits older cities like Buffalo, Jamestown, Lackawanna and Dunkirk.”
The “Revitalizing Older Cities Task Force,” dedicated to addressing the plight of this region’s older cities, was formed early this year by members of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition. The Northeast-Midwest Coalition was established over 30 years ago because federal legislators from these regions recognized that their needs are similar and by working together they can have a greater impact on the issues specific to their unique constituency. Congressman Higgins and Congressman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) were appointed to serve as Co-Chairs of the Older Cities Task Force by Chairman Jim Oberstar of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, who also Co-Chairs the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition.
One of the first issues the task force addressed was a discussion of vacant properties and historic structures. Last year Congressman Higgins introduced H.R. 3498, the Neighborhood Reclamation and Revitalization Act, a bill which would provide funds to older cities to deal with rampant vacant properties. In addition to Congressman Higgins’ bill, members of the task force have already introduced legislation to create tax credits to cleanup and redevelop brownfield sites and expand the current historic rehabilitation tax credit to make it applicable to affordable housing.
The task force is currently comprised of the following members: Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-NY), Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), Rep. Chris Carney (D-PA), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Phil English (R-PA), Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI), Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), Rep. James McGovern (D-MD), Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Tim Ryan (D- OH), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).