Higgins Wins Approval for Amendment to Protect Community Development Block Grant Funds to Niagara Falls
Yesterday Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) won approval in the House of Representatives for an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill which will protect over $2.2 million in federal funding to the City of Niagara Falls. The Higgins amendment was included in the final bill approved last night.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) 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 United States Census Bureau put the City of Niagara Falls just under that standard at 49,722 (2012).
Higgins’ amendment says that 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:
(To access video click above or go to: https://youtu.be/BtOQW6-RI3A)
“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 Congressman Higgins’ district that receives federal funding through the CDBG program.
Just a few recent examples of local projects that have benefited from CDBG funding include: demolition of seven blighted, vacant properties in the City of Lackawanna; preservation of the historic Water Mill in Williamsville; replacement of a senior center roof in Grand Island, neighborhood police substations and security cameras in the City of Niagara Falls; 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; demolition and subsequent design and construction of a bicycle path at the former Spaulding Fibre site in the City of Tonawanda; and rehabilitation to 7 community centers, 15 parks, and sidewalks on 20 streets in the City of Buffalo.