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Higgins Warns President’s Proposed Elimination of Community Development Block Grants Would Cost WNY Over $22.73 Million

Mar 21, 2019
Press Release
Higgins Warns President’s Proposed Elimination of Community Development Block Grants Would Cost WNY Over $22.73 Million

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) responded to President Trump’s draconian budget proposal to eliminate the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program founded in 1974 that currently provides over $22.73 million in federal funding to municipalities in Erie County and Western New York.

 

Congressman Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, said, “The Community Development Block Grant program has sustained bipartisan support in Congress since its inception, and if you look at Western New York you can see just how successful and transformative this program is. In fact, HUD has previously reported that every dollar of funding leveraged an additional $3.55 in additional resources. Not only should we not be eliminating Community Development Block Grants, we should increase funding for programs like these that support neighborhood reinvestment, affordable housing, and economic development.”

 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Eliminating Community Block Grant funding would have an immediate and long-lasting negative effect on Erie County, where such funding has helped to reinvigorate community centers and build community assets for decades. CDBG funding leverages municipal infrastructure investments and spurs new development, more sustainable communities, and improved quality of life for residents. The myopic proposal to eliminate this vital funding must be rejected and I join Congressman Higgins in opposing any cuts to the CDBG program.”

 

“Since 2012, CDBG funding has helped to support more than 15 park improvement projects, dozens of demolitions and renovations and assisted more than 400 residents in becoming proud homeowners here in the City of Niagara Falls,” said City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.  “The President’s shortsighted budget proposal would have a devastating impact on the progress that our city has and continues to make thanks to the Community Development Block Grant Program, I commend Congressman Higgins for his efforts to fight to protect this critical funding on behalf of our community and those like us nationwide.”

 

“Community Development Block Grant funding helps the most vulnerable members of our community and has helped revitalize many neighborhoods in Cheektowaga,” said Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski. “Thanks to CDBG funding, Cheektowaga has been able to fund neighborhood police foot patrols; send children to summer day camps; improve public infrastructure; and provide assistance to food banks. Cheektowaga would be hit hard if this funding was eliminated. I thank Congressman Higgins for his leadership in fighting for the Community Development Block Grant program – he certainly understands how crucial this funding is to our residents and to the vitality of our neighborhoods here in Cheektowaga.”

 

Town of Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said, “Block grants are the cornerstone of programming that we have to assist elderly and underprivileged people maintain their housing stock throughout the Town of Amherst. We regularly coordinate that program through our Building department and use it to assist people who would not otherwise have the means to invest in their property. Further, block grants support many of our youth and senior projects that include programs throughout the Town, and include transportation procedures. Without access to the block grant program, many of our Town’s services would be in danger, and we would need to consider alternative revenue sources, i.e., tax, in order to provide people the same standards.”

 

The Community Development Block Grant Program, funded at $3.3 billion for 2019 is completely eliminated in the President’s proposed 2020 budget.  Higgins strongly objects to program elimination or cuts and has signed onto a letter requesting at least $3.8 billion for the CDBG program in 2020. 

 

Municipalities in WNY received the following through the Community Development Block Grant Program in 2018:

 

Municipality

Funding Received (FY18)

Amherst

$574,942

Buffalo

$13,677,706

Cheektowaga

$1,028,062

Erie County

$3,036,359

Hamburg

$407,658

Niagara Falls

$2,348,583

Tonawandas

$1,665,083

Total Funding

$22,738,393

 

 

Among the longest continually run programs at HUD, the CDBG program has helped communities in Western New York complete important infrastructure and municipal projects, and its elimination would cause unnecessary damage to the region’s continued development. Just a few examples of local CDBG investments in recent years include:

  • preservation of the historic Water Mill in Williamsville,
  • installation of a roof on the Grand Island senior center and elevator in Town Hall,
  • demolition of Lincoln School and blighted vacant homes in Lackawanna,
  • construction of a bicycle bath at the former Spaulding Firbre site in Tonawanda,
  • 70th Street Park, Gill Creek Playground, Hyde Park Skate Park and Walnut Avenue Homes in Niagara Falls, 
  • And paving of Benson Ave, Dirkson Ave, Wichita Road, Birchwood, N. Covington, Bruch, Grace streets in West Seneca. 

 

In fiscal year 2019, Erie County was awarded more than $1.5 million in federal CDBG grants, and matched that with $1.4 million in local funding.

 

Additionally, the City of Buffalo received over $13 million for 2019 with plans to invest $1.475 million for more than 100 road projects, over $2 million for public services and youth programs, $912,500 for parks and pools, $1.775 million toward sidewalk enhancements and $2.3 million for community centers.

 

Congress is in the process now of holding hearings on the proposed budget and will develop its own budget resolution before proceeding with consideration and adoption of appropriation bills before the 2020 federal fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2019.