Chautauqua County legislators calling for the cities of Dunkirk and Jamestown to ante up what they feel the cities owe in foreclosure monies may have a little less to complain about in the future.
The city of Dunkirk, through Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc., will receive $250,000 in federal Housing and Urban Development new Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding designed to help acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties.
State Sen. Catharine Young and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins sent releases Tuesday that said the city's monies were part of $740,000 received by Chautauqua County agencies. The Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvement Corporation will receive the other $490,000 for similar work in Jamestown.
Dunkirk Mayor Richard Frey
"Rising foreclosure rates have resulted in a number of abandoned homes in otherwise stable neighborhoods throughout communities in Chautauqua County," Young said. "Although it is important that we continue to focus on helping hardworking families avoid foreclosure in the first place, we also must do what we can to ensure abandoned homes don't hurt local economies further by bringing down the value of nearby properties."
"Strong and stable neighborhoods are the foundation of every community," Higgins said. "One vacant home has the potential to negatively impact an entire street. This funding will go a long way toward improving struggling neighborhoods in Chautauqua County."
The funding was part of $59 million released by Gov. David Paterson through the NSP. Federal funding is through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 with state funds through the "nyhomes" program adding to the total. The awards came after a competitive process that saw 29 applicants selected statewide. Projects were awarded for the following purposes: acquisition and rehabilitation, homebuyer assistance, land banking, demolition of blighted properties and redevelopment of vacant properties.
"It takes many more than any single entity to get good things to happen. It takes all of us working together."
Dunkirk Mayor Richard Frey
"Chautauqua Opportunities Inc. is pleased to have been awarded these funds through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program," Roberta Keller, Executive Director of COI said. "We, in partnership with the city of Dunkirk and with the assistance of the county, will be renovating nine foreclosed units in the city of Dunkirk. The units will be put back on the tax rolls and will provide safe and affordable housing for low-income residents of the city."
Dunkirk Mayor Richard Frey noted that partnerships are needed.
"These partnerships are what it takes to get the job done," he said. "We partner every day with entities like COI, under the leadership of Ms. Keller, to make things happen for the people of the city of Dunkirk. It takes many more than any single entity to get good things to happen. It takes all of us working together."
CHRIC Director John Murphy said he appreciated the support of all involved.
"These important state and federal funds will help us to substantially rehabilitate vacant houses we are acquiring in Jamestown," he said. "Once rehabbed, these homes will be sold only to owner-occupants as a part of our neighborhood stabilization strategy in collaboration with the city of Jamestown."
Young provided the rationale behind the grants.
"Neighborhood housing organizations such as CHRIC and COI can do a better job with rehabbing and property management than other investors, who are often looking to only flip hoses for profit," she said. "They are motivated to remove the blight and eyesores from our neighborhoods and help address some of the collateral effects of the foreclosure crisis that has taken hold over so many communities."
According to Young, all households to receive NSP funds must report an income at or below 120 percent of the local Area Median Income (AMI). In addition, 27 percent of the funds target low-income households at or below 50 percent of the AMI.
Additional funds are expected to be released for the NSP program with federal guidelines on fund distribution expected in May.
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