A Letter to Congressman John Katko Regarding Proposed Budget Cuts to CDBG and HOME Funds – Syracuse, NY

If you aren’t already, people need to be aware of proposed budget cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG). Cities such as Syracuse, have utilized these programs to combat urban blight, homelessness, repair homes, mitigate lead and other hazards, feeding children and seniors. The list goes on to identify how CDBG funds assist in maintaining and improving the quality of life in some of our most distressed neighborhoods.

Directors of organizations impacted by the Federal Governments pending cuts, have written a letter to U.S. Congressman John Katko (R-Onondaga) in an effort to preserve funding these programs depend on. Below, you’ll find the text of the letter and  names of those agencies that have signed on to the letter emphasizing what is done with these much needed funds.

 

April 6, 2017

The Honorable Congressman John Katko
U.S. House of Representatives
440 South Warren Street
7th Floor, Suite 711
Syracuse, NY 13202

RE: Proposed Budget Cuts to CDBG and HOME Funds – Syracuse, NY

Dear Congressman Katko:

On behalf of the housing and human service entities that serve thousands of Syracuse families each year with programs and services made possible through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME funding, we would like to thank you for your stated support in keeping these key federal investments in our upstate city from being cut.

CDBG and HOME funds directly target our poorest populations and our most challenged neighborhoods through grants, deferred loans and programming that repair homes, provide job training, mitigate lead and other environmental hazards, feed children and seniors, relocate families after disaster, remove blighted and dangerous structures, educate new homebuyers, defend victims of housing discrimination and more. These federal funds are often the first step for families trying to break out of poverty by getting better jobs or becoming homeowners and building family wealth. CDBG/HOME funds are also the last line of defense keeping families from losing their homes, kids from dangerous lifestyles and seniors in their homes safely and affordably.

Some facts about CDBG and HOME funding in Syracuse:

  • 6,876 low-income households were assisted with CDBG/HOME funds in 2015-2016.
  • Every $1 in CDBG/HOME funding allocated to Syracuse families leverages more than $3 of additional funding from State, foundation and private sources. Eliminating CDBG and HOME funds jeopardizes at least $17 million of additional investment in Syracuse this year alone.
  • CDBG/HOME funding is one of the leading economic driver for local MWBE contractors in Syracuse as non-profit developers routinely meet 40% participation rates helping contractors garner more than $5.1 million in contracts in 2015-2016.
  • Our city’s three community centers reach more than 10,500 people annually.
  • Based on housing development alone, Home HeadQuarters generates more than $2.5 million in taxes annually.
  • Syracuse has more than 1,700 vacant and dilapidated structures. Current CDBG/HOME fund allocations allow Syracuse to address less than 1/3 of those properties.

As you know, Syracuse leads the entire country in concentrated poverty for both Black and Hispanic families. Syracuse is also in the top five metropolitan areas in the United States for lack of opportunity for minority families. With limited resources, every housing and human services agency already works to increase private investment from a dwindling pool of corporate partners and to make the urgent case for housing needs to an over-burdened philanthropic community. CDBG, HOME and CDFI funds are often the only source of funding for our poor and very poor families. We cannot afford to further disinvest in our urban center.

We are happy to meet with you to discuss specific programs, share numbers and goals and to show you, family by family, house by house, the difference CDBG/HOME funding has made in Syracuse.

Thank you.
Sincerely,

Mary Lou Sayles
Executive Director
Huntington Family Centers
Melissa A. Marrone
Coordinator
Housing & Homeless Coalition of Central New York
Ron Ehrenreich
Treasurer/CEO
Cooperative Federal
Sharon Sherman
Executive Director
Greater Syracuse Tenants
Network
Michael W. La Flair
Executive Director
Northeast Hawley Development Assoc., Inc.
Sharon F. Owens
Chief Executive Officer
Syracuse Community Connections
Joseph E. O’Hara
Executive Director
PEACE, Inc.
Kate Shanks-Booth
Executive Director
Women’s Opportunity Center
Rebecca C. Newman
EVP & COO
Housing Visions Unlimited, Inc.
Michael Collins
Executive Director
Syracuse Northeast Community Center
Michael F. Melara
Executive Director
Catholic Charities of Onondaga County
Kerry P. Quaglia
Chief Executive Officer
Home HeadQuarters, Inc.
Rich Puchalski
Executive Director
Syracuse United Neighbors
Cheryl Pusztai
Executive Director
Downtown YMCA
Southwest YMCA
Robert Sekowski
Co-Executive Director
Empire Housing and Development Corporation
Joan Royle
Executive Director
Westcott Community Center
Sally Santangelo
Executive Director
CNY Fair Housing
Walt Dixie
Executive Director
Jubilee Homes
Tania Anderson
Chief Executive Officer
ARISE
Douglas J. Reicher
President
Christopher Community, Inc.
Sally Fisher Curran, Esq.
Executive Director
Volunteer Lawyers Project