February 5, 2010
Governor David Paterson
Albany, New York 12224
Re: Neighborhood Preservation and Rural Preservation Program funding (N/RPP)
Dear Governor Paterson:
I am writing this letter on behalf of the South End Improvement Corporation to appeal to you to use the power under the 30-day amendment process to restore funding to the N/RPP programs.
The South End Improvement Corporation (SEIC) is a not for profit organization located in the South End of Albany. It provides rehabilitation-housing grants to folks primarily in the South End of Albany and to senior citizens in the City of Albany. Its mission is to improve the housing conditions and the quality of life for its community, thereby preserving the residential character of the unique neighborhoods and encouraging city living. SEIC carries out its mission by administering housing rehabilitation assistance programs, engaging in neighborhood and citywide planning efforts, and collaborating with housing and other organizations to meet the needs of the neighborhoods. It offers assistance to those most in need such as the elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners and tenants of its community.
The proposed Executive Budget for 2010-2011 calling for deep cuts to the tune of 27 % or more to the Neighborhood Preservation Program and 29% or more to the Rural Preservation Program is demoralizing news. The cuts would frankly devastate our organization and create a tremendous hardship to the other N/RPP organizations statewide, not to mention the neediest population of people we serve. With an already modest annual investment of less than $85,000 per NPP per fiscal year, cutting funding by 27% could most likely force our small organization to close its doors.
Although small, SEIC provides huge important housing services to the community. Many of our clients are senior citizen homeowners on fixed incomes. Others of them are the working poor. These folks necessitate our services to help keep their houses up to code and Housing Quality Standard safe. They deserve to have their quality of life sustained and improved. The neighborhoods they live in deserve to have blighted conditions ameliorated. Through Federal, State and CDBG grants, SEIC provides support to people ranging from minor home improvements to substantial rehabilitation. SEIC needs staff to administer these vital programs to the community. With the proposed cuts, SEIC would be forced to lay off its staff who administers these grants. At present, SEIC has three employees including me. Two of the three staff members work 80% of the time due to the current budget.
While I understand and appreciate that New York State is in a financial crisis. I respectfully submit that housing is not the area to cut funding especially for the most vulnerable. In hard times like these, housing needs are soaring while folks are losing jobs, employment work hours are decreasing and overall household incomes are shrinking. Decent and safe affordable housing is a fundamental right for all Americans.
I respectfully plead for you to use your power to completely restore funding to the N/RPPs of this great state.
cc: Senator Neil D. Breslin
Assemblymember Ron Canestrari
Assemblymember John J. McEneny