At last, Buf­falo re­ceives $13.7 mil­lion in de­layed fund­ing from HUD

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jerry Zrem­ski NEWS WASH­ING­TON BUREAU CHIEF

WASH­ING­TON – Buf­falo has fi­nally re­ceived the nearly $13.7 mil­lion in fund­ing that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment owed the city since Oct. 1, and New York’s two U.S. sen­a­tors are very happy about it.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Kirsten E. Gil­li­brand an­nounced Fri­day that the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment had fi­nally de­liv­ered the long-de­layed Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant fund­ing.

The two sen­a­tors, who pressed the agency to re­lease the fund­ing in a let­ter last week, said they were pleased the money had fi­nally ar­rived.

“The Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant is a vi­tal stream of in­vest­ment that sup­ports lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, com­mu­nity re­vi­tal­iza­tion and af­ford­able hous­ing,” Schumer said. “It was so im­por­tant to en­sure that the City of Buf­falo re­ceived its de­layed CDBG al­lo­ca­tion im­me­di­ately.”

Gil­li­brand agreed, say­ing: “The de­lay of this fund­ing was com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. These types of delays can hurt crit­i­cal pro­grams that help make sure fam­i­lies and work­ers in Buf­falo have ac­cess to af­ford­able hous­ing and good lo­cal jobs.”

Buf­falo Mayor Byron W. Brown com­plained about the fund­ing de­lay last week, say­ing it could en­dan­ger hous­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ef­forts, street and side­walk re­pairs and pro­grams for youth and se­nior cit­i­zens, among oth­ers.

“This puts pres­sure on pro­vid­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices for some of our most in­need res­i­dents,” Brown said.

The city – and the com­mu­nity-ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tions that get money from the fed­eral grant pro­gram – didn’t have to cut ser­vices, though, be­cause city of­fi­cials have been able to move around funds to keep pro­grams op­er­at­ing, the mayor said.

Olga Al­varez, a spokes­woman at HUD’s re­gional of­fice in New York, ac­knowl­edged last week that both Buf­falo and the Town of Ton­awanda had not re­ceived their grant money yet, but she did not pro­vide an ex­pla­na­tion for the de­lay.

The Town of Ton­awanda still has not re­ceived the $1.67 mil­lion in com­mu­nity block grant fund­ing it is owed, Schumer’s of­fice noted.

Like Buf­falo, the Town of Ton­awanda has been able to shift funds around to cover the de­layed fed­eral pay­ment, Jim Hartz, the town’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, said last week.

But if the funds don’t ar­rive by early Jan­uary, more se­ri­ous mea­sures – such as pro­gram cuts – could be nec­es­sary, Hartz said.

Schumer said he hopes that won’t hap­pen.

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