Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) has been named Co-Chair of the bi-partisan Congressional “Revitalizing Older Cities Task Force.” Congressman Mike Turner, a Republican from Ohio, will serve as Higgins’ counterpart.
“America’s older, industrial cities that once bustled with manufacturing business and jobs and built this nation are now struggling with the changing economy,” said Congressman Higgins. “This Task Force will take a proactive look at a wide cross-section of issues to promote federal policies that inject opportunity and optimism into our older cities.”
The “Revitalizing Older Cities Task Force” dedicated to addressing the plight of this region’s older cities was recently formed 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 was appointed to serve as Co-Chair 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 the future, the Task Force will take a critical assessment of how and whether current federal initiatives are meeting the challenges faced by older industrial cities and regions like Western New York. 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. Other issues anticipated to be addressed by the task force include: decaying urban infrastructure, the need for urban economic development, the energy/environmental benefits of urban in-fill versus sprawl and the lack of availability of healthy foods in urban cores.
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).