Jacqueline M. Izzo
West Rome focus for city’s federal block grant funding
BY STEVE JONES
Rome will receive $916,910 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding this year, a decrease of almost $10,000 from last year, according to an announcement from U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York today.
In 2016, the city received $926,572 in CDBG funding. It was broken down into six categories: $400,000 for street, sidewalk and public community reconstruction, $181,572 for administration, $110,000 for economic development , $100,000 for housing activities, $75,000 for demolition and acquisition and $60,000 for public services.
The funding, said Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo, “is an important economic development tool for the City of Rome creating a stream of funds to assist commercial business owners with façade improvements, improve neighborhoods by eliminating slum and blight through targeted building demolitions and residential façade improvements, non-profit programming citywide, and improving public facilities and services.”
The City of Rome determines its spending priorities each year by conducting public outreach efforts through public meetings and surveys, consultation with local organizations, and its Community Development Advisory Committee, which is comprised of three members of the Common Council and one constituent from each of the city’s seven wards.
This year, the city will be committing the funds to housing activities, slum and blight, public facilities, public services, economic development and program administration.
West Rome improvements
The mayor added: “This year’s allocation will focus heavily on the improvement of West Rome, beginning with development along West Dominick Street.”
“West Dominick Street is considered a Main Street Corridor, and is part of the Erie Boulevard Brownfield Opportunity Area, which allows the city to leverage funding sources to provide a more substantial impact in the community,” Izzo said.
“The CDBG entitlement will fund two hallmark projects for west Rome: the Residential Façade Program and the SMART Walk Neighborhood Enhancement. The residential façade program will provide residents with funding to enhance the fronts of their homes, and the SMART Walk will be a neighborhood street, sidewalk, and beautification initiative which will greatly enhance the neighborhood, both functionally and aesthetically,” the mayor added.
“The city would also like to dedicate a portion of its Economic Development funding for the Commercial Façade program to West Dominick Street. Just this week we completed a Walk with the Mayor to begin assessing the 400-600 blocks of West Dominick Street in anticipation of this funding.”
Senators call for continued funding
In the announcement about this year’s funding allocations, the two senators renewed their call on President Donald Trump, “who completely decimated the programs in the recent White House (fiscal year 2018) budget proposal.”
Earlier this month, Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand expressed “serious concerns” over reports that the administration will eliminate all funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s CDBG program.
Schumer and Gillibrand said the proposed elimination would hurt New York’s most vulnerable and put countless community development and affordable housing projects at risk across New York.
The program, they said, is an investment in essential services for area residents that supports affordable housing programs.
“Without this federal funding, many local job-creating development projects that reversed blighted neighborhoods and boosted jobs and support for workers might not be here today,” the announcement added.
CDBG funds are distributed to states, counties, villages, towns and cities across the country to fund development projects. The program funds affordable housing projects, provides services to the most vulnerable in communities and creates jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses.
The program provides annual grants on a formula basis to over 1,200 local and state governments.