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CUOMO DELIVERS $8.2 MILLION IN ASSISTANCE TO MAINE, JOINS GOV. KING AND CONGRESSMEN ALLEN AND BALDACCI IN MEETING WITH COMMUNITY
PORTLAND, MAINE - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo visited Portland today to present Maine officials with $8.2 million in assistance to help them build housing, create jobs, spark business growth and revitalize communities, and to learn first-hand how HUD can improve its partnership with communities in the state.
Cuomo announced the following assistance for Maine:
The funding announced today comes on top of $22.4 million in similar assistance that HUD awarded the State of Maine in April for housing construction and rehabilitation, job creation programs, public services, infrastructure improvements and homeless initiatives.
Governor Angus King, Congressman Tom Allen and Congressman John Baldacci joined Secretary Cuomo at a community roundtable meeting with business leaders, representatives of the construction and real estate industries and members of the community to discuss ways to work together to meet the housing and economic development challenges facing Maine.
Cuomo pointed out that Maine is a national leader in homeownership, with the second-highest homeownership rate in the United States - 76.3 percent of families in the second quarter of this year, compared with a national homeownership rate of 66 percent of families.
"Washington doesn't have a monopoly on wisdom," Cuomo said. "I've come here today to learn from the real experts on Maine's needs - its people and its leaders - about steps HUD can take to help you reach the goals you've set for yourselves."
"Governor King, Senator Collins, Senator Snowe, Congressman Allen and Congressman Baldacci have worked as a team to help improve the lives of the people of Maine," Cuomo said. "I'm here to tell you that the Clinton Administration is proud to be part of this team, proud that federal funds are being put to work to benefit the people of Maine, and determined to work with you even more effectively for the good of this state."
Governor King said he was grateful for the grants awarded today. "These grants will provide more housing and job opportunities for Maine families and help continue Maine's economic growth, especially in areas of the state that need it most," the Governor said.
Congressman Allen said: "These HUD Community Development Block Grant funds will help Portland to meet critical housing, child care, health, senior services, transportation and homeless services needs. In addition, the Community Development Block Grants fund parks, street improvements, sewer construction, handicapped accessibility and other much-needed public works projects. First-time homebuyers will receive financial assistance from HUD's HOME program."
Congressman Baldacci said: "These significant HUD grants will serve to create jobs, improve substandard housing and make possible important investments in community infrastructure. These resources represent a vital partnership between the federal government and Maine cities. This assistance will have a direct and meaningful impact on the residents of Bangor, Lewiston, Auburn and Portland."
Senator Olympia Snowe said: "Secretary Cuomo's visit demonstrates the deep commitment the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has shown to Maine through community development grants and other programs that create jobs and benefit low- and moderate-income residents. The grants announced today will mean more jobs, better services, and enhanced communities for Maine residents. From assistance for Maine's small and growing businesses, to infrastructure improvements and case management for our neediest residents, HUD's assistance will make a meaningful difference in the lives of our citizens."
Senator Susan Collins said: "The Cities of Auburn, Bangor, Lewiston and Portland will benefit greatly from these grants. Their application towards housing rehabilitation, economic development, job creation and public services will improve the qualify of life in each city."
Cuomo began his visit to Portland by joining Congressmen Allen and Baldacci at the Family Shelter, a homeless services facility that is part of Portland's Homeless Assistance Program, which won a Best Practices Award from HUD for its outstanding work to help homeless people become self-sufficient. The facility, which receives HUD funds through the City of Portland, serves about 200 families a year in a 10-unit apartment building. Families stay for an average of four to six weeks. Cuomo presented the facility with a plaque and spoke with homeless residents.
Cuomo also presented the shelter with 250 children's books, which will be distributed to homeless youngsters. The books were donated by Disney Publishing Co. as part of its ongoing commitment to building children's literacy.
HUD provided $3.65 million in Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grants to communities in Maine and to the state government last year and provided $859,000 in Emergency Shelter Grants. In addition to providing homeless people with transitional and permanent housing, Continuum of Care grants fund programs such as job training, child care, substance abuse treatment and mental health services to enable homeless people to get jobs and build independent lives.
Here are details of the HUD assistance announced today:
AUBURN - $745,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for activities including: an economic development loan program to create and retain jobs, housing rehabilitation, and a broad range of public services.
BANGOR - $1.24 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for economic development loans and programs to rehabilitate housing, repave streets, replace sidewalks, improve parks and make public buildings more accessible to people with disabilities.
LEWISTON - $1.26 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for economic development of downtown businesses, continuing redevelopment of the Bates Mill, housing rehabilitation, and assistance to help 17 businesses start up or expand to create or preserve 85 jobs.
PORTLAND - $3.14 million under three HUD programs for activities including: housing rehabilitation, assistance for first-time homebuyers, a health care program for homeless people, programs to prevent homelessness, sewer construction, and improvements to parks and sidewalks.
COASTAL ENTERPRISES, INC. OF WISCASSET - $1.85 million in an Economic Development Initiative Special Project Grant to enable the non-profit community economic development firm to launch programs to spark regional economic development and job creation. The programs will seek to attract new businesses to the area and make it easier for entrepreneurs to succeed. Financing capital of $1.5 million will be offered to businesses to help them expand and create jobs and to help them build low-income housing.
With the exception of Coastal Enterprises, Inc., the aid to the communities in Maine is part of HUD's 1998 Consolidated Plan. The Consolidated Planning process was developed by Cuomo when he served as HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development. The process ensures that local residents have strong input into the creation of comprehensive, community-based housing and economic development plans.
The streamlined funding process gives communities maximum local flexibility, while reducing burdensome regulatory requirements. Local HUD staff are empowered to work closely with communities to customize Consolidated Plans and to help them achieve their housing and economic development goals.
Portland would qualify for even more federal assistance if its application to be designated as an Empowerment Zone is approved.
President Clinton has proposed creating 15 new urban Empowerment Zones that would use tax incentives and grants to benefit communities around the nation by creating jobs, reducing poverty, strengthening local economies and spurring community revitalization. In 1994 President Clinton created 72 Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities around the nation.
Cuomo said the President's proposed 1999 budget would jump-start the economies of America's communities, particularly cities, where job growth has trailed other parts of the country. Just 13 percent of the 14 million jobs created in the past five years are in central cities.
In addition to the new Empowerment Zones, nationwide programs targeted for expansion and improvement in the President's proposed budget involving jobs and economic opportunity include: $400 million in grants for a Community Empowerment Fund to create and retain an estimated 280,000 jobs; expanded Community Development Block Grants to local communities; and increased funding for programs to redevelop contaminated industrial sites and for programs to train high school dropouts for jobs.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009