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Cuomo spotlights proposed anti-poverty initiatives

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered a variety of state help in his speech and budget proposals Wednesday for New Yorkers who may have felt left out of the state’s recovery: the poor and homeless, the young, people isolated in rural areas, and the aging and disabled and their caregivers.

• Unemployed youth in cities could benefit from Cuomo’s proposal to create an Urban Youth Jobs Program, expanding on the existing Youth Works Tax Credit Program for employers who give jobs to at-risk youth. The annual allocation would double to $20 million for tax years 2015 through 2018, focusing on cities like Buffalo that have high youth unemployment.

• A state Office of Faith-Based Community Services would be created to work with community and church organizations to enhance their ability to provide social supports, education, health care, job training and other programs.

Also, a Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program would have $50 million to invest in capital projects for nonprofits to improve their efficiency and quality. Smaller nonprofits with existing state contracts in high-need areas will be given priority. According to the Human Services Council of New York, the state currently spends $10 billion annually on contracts with 5,000 nonprofits for such services as after-school programs, senior care and workforce services.

• Programs that help immigrants that have been subjected to federal budget cuts will receive additional state support of $3 million to offset those reductions and add $1 million more, through the state Office for New Americans.

• Of special interest to aging residents who need help to continue living at home, the budget allocates $25 million in increased funding for caregiver respite services and assistance in finding caregiving support, along with more funding for Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Centers and the Alzheimer’s Disease Community Assistance Program.

The state AARP praised Cuomo’s backing of the Caregiver Support Initiative to provide training and other assistance for informal caregivers who will be responsible for patients who are being discharged from health care facilities. About three million people in New York are either full- or part-time informal caregivers for a family member or loved one.

• More than $486 million in new funding would go toward affordable housing and housing the homeless. It includes $229 million to continue the five-year House NY program to build and preserve affordable housing units, up $32 million over last year, and $257 million from the J.P. Morgan Chase settlement funds for other housing projects, including $40 million for homeless assistance programs.

• The Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities would receive $120 million for new services for its clients, allowing for individualized needs assessments and planning process.

• Following recommendations from the Anti-Hunger Task Force formed in 2013, Cuomo would provide $4.5 million to bolster the state’s 2,600 providers of emergency food services. Another $250,000 would augment federal subsidies for food at child and adult care programs, and $250,000 more would go toward programs connecting state farmers with their local schools to deliver healthy food to students.

• Farmers, doctors, students and other residents of rural areas of the state would be less technologically isolated if the proposed $500 million New NY Broadband Fund is established to extend high-speed Internet service into remote areas such as underserved parts of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Genesee counties. It would form public/private partnerships and streamline the state’s regulatory process.

The governor’s office estimates that one million New Yorkers and 4,000 businesses cannot get access to broadband service at the state’s current minimum standards, rates it says are already too slow for today’s Internet purposes.

• Rural residents also would benefit from a $400 million infusion of money to help troubled hospitals in smaller communities complete capital projects and restructure their debt. Several hospitals in the region have faced uncertainty recently as they struggle with changing care structures and the resulting need to adjust their missions.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com