Home support programs get late boost in state budget

Neighborhood and Rural Preservation programs that were axed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initial budget ha

Neighborhood and Rural Preservation programs that were axed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initial budget have been restored to higher than previous years’ funding, just days before the budget is due.

Funding is increased by $2.2 million overall, with more than $10 million going to neighborhood preservation programs and $4.2 million to rural preservation programs. This means individual programs that operate throughout the state will go from a little more than $50,000 annually to almost $68,000.

“Having that money put back in means everything,” said Beverly Burnett, executive director of the Community Land Trust of Schenectady. “It means we get to stay in operation.”

Her group offers programs such as home ownership counseling, credit and budget counseling, home repair workshops and emergency home repair assistance for the elderly.

The increase in state funding, while not as high as what had been hoped, will be especially necessary in the face of a budget cut by the city, Burnett said. They lost $95,000 from the city, of which $20,000 was for administration costs. The state money above last year’s total will go toward offsetting lost administration costs.

“You need that administration money,” she said, explaining that it funds their outreach efforts and day-to-day operations.

Burnett added that the state made the right move by funding the programs this way, instead of through the regional economic development councils as had been suggested. If that model had been adopted, she said, it would have killed the programs around the state because they need funds to spend up front.

Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, characterized this shift in funding as a boon to communities that are “rejuvenated and revitalized” by these programs.

“We’re strapped for cash in many of these cities,” Tedisco said, “so any of these preservation funds are going to do the job we need to get done in terms of providing good stable housing.”

Jessica Vasquez, executive director of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State, called the restoration and increase of funds a step in the right direction. She said funding for the last two years had eroded local programs’ infrastructures.

The money will go a long way toward stabilizing communities and revitalizing local economies, she said. According to New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal, neighborhood preservation programs yield $52 for a community per $1 invested by the state, and rural preservation programs generate $37 for a community per $1 invested by the state.

Categories: Schenectady County

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