Perhaps it is nothing more than bureaucratic ineptitude preventing federal Community Development Block Grant funds from reaching the City of Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda. Whatever it is, though, it is unacceptable.
Checks should have arrived Oct. 1. It’s now December – holiday time but not so festive when you’re faced with manufactured disasters, especially for those the money is intended to help.
Buffalo is owed $13.68 million; Tonawanda, $1.67 million. It’s not just this area. Syracuse is waiting on $4.87 million. It’s a lot of money, even by municipal standards.
Housing and Urban Development officials must immediately rectify the situation. Send taxpayer dollars that have already been approved and earmarked to serve communities in need. Pull all-nighters, if necessary. Get it done.
Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote HUD Secretary Ben Carson asking that the funding be delivered, promptly. Schumer noted that the delay counts as more than an inconvenience.
In Buffalo, the money helps fund housing rehabilitation, street and sidewalk repairs. Mayor Byron W. Brown discussed how programs could be imperiled without what has been promised: “This puts pressure on providing essential services for some of our most in-need residents.”
The city’s programs and community service organizations that receive money from the federal grant program have not had to cut services – not yet, anyway, because city officials have been able to shift funding around to stay operational. How long that can last is anyone’s guess.
Jim Hartz, the Town of Tonawanda’s director of community development, said officials there have also shifted around money but warned of program cuts if the federal funds do not arrive within one or two months.
The town relies on the funding for its home repair program. The rest goes to road repairs and other infrastructure improvements.
HUD is aware that the money has not been sent. One regional spokeswoman said she does not know the reason for the holdup. The “grantees,” as she described the municipalities left waiting by their inboxes, are not just worried. They are understandably upset.
Send the federal taxpayer dollars meant to benefit our communities.
It’s not that hard.