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CUOMO DELIVERS $3.9 MILLION IN GRANTS TO LONG BEACH FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP ZONE AND TO CONTROL LEAD HAZARDS
LONG BEACH, CA - Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo today delivered $3.9 million in grants to Long Beach to help turn a blighted inner city area into a thriving neighborhood of new and rehabilitated single-family homes and to reduce lead hazards in housing.
Cuomo awarded a $1.9 million grant to Long Beach as he designated the American Market neighborhood in the city as the Department of Housing and Urban Development's seventh Homeownership Zone. The HUD grant is expected to spark almost $27.5 million in private and public investment in the new Zone.
"Homeownership Zones will turn back the clock on urban decay, returning vitality to inner cities after decades of decline," Cuomo said. "We will help neighborhood that prospered in years past to achieve a new prosperity in the years ahead."
Cuomo also delivered a $2 million grant to remove lead-based paint hazards - which can include lead-contaminated paint, dust and soil - in over 200 housing units in downtown Long Beach that were built before 1978, when lead-based paint was outlawed as a health hazard.
The Secretary presented the grants to Mayor Beverly O'Neill at a ceremony attended by Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald and Congressman Stephen Horn.
Congresswoman Millender-McDonald said: "I am proud to know that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded these funds to the City of Long Beach for a Homeownership Zone. The need for affordable housing for first-time buyers is essential and this grant will go a long way toward addressing the issue of housing revitalization."
Congressman Horn said: "I am delighted to have Secretary Cuomo visit Long Beach. We appreciate his and the Department's recognition of the essential need for affordable housing in this area."
Long Beach is receiving about $15.7 million in assistance from major HUD programs this year. Under President Clinton's proposed 1999 budget, aid from HUD to the city would increase to about $19.5 million next year.
Cuomo is on a four-day visit to Southern California that began Monday to see HUD programs in action, meet with mayors and others, and strengthen HUD's partnership with communities in the region.
The Homeownership Zone program, begun last April, is designed to revitalize decaying urban areas by creating large new neighborhoods of owner-occupied, single-family homes. The new neighborhoods are expected to attract new residents, new businesses and new jobs to inner cities. Sacramento was among the six cities chosen for the original round of Homeownership Zones last year, making California the only state with two such Zones.
The $1.9 million Homeownership Zone grant to Long Beach will help 203 families become owners of newly built or rehabilitated single-family homes. More than half of the units will be reserved for low-income families.
Expenses such as the purchase of land and infrastructure improvements can be funded with HUD's Homeownership Zone assistance. This will effectively cut costs for families buying homes and for retailers and other businesses setting up shop in the Zones, increasing the attractiveness of the area.
The 203 homes in the Zone will consist of: 167 new townhouses, five Habitat for Humanity homes, eight new houses, and 23 rehabilitated homes.
The city's plan for the Homeownership Zone also includes new park development, the construction of a new elementary school, expansion of transit parking, concentrated commercial revitalization and improvements to St. Mary's Hospital.
The American Market Place Homeownership Zone is a 35-square-block area within the Central Long Beach Redevelopment Project Area. It is bounded by the Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Avenue, Seventh Street, and Lime Avenue. The area was severely damaged during the 1992 riots, with the commercial area along Long Beach Boulevard being particularly hard hit.
The Zone is expected to increase the homeownership rate from 12 percent to 20 percent in the area and support ongoing investment in the neighborhood.
The Clinton Administration's 1999 proposed HUD budget asks for $25 million for Homeownership Zones, to create new Zones in five to seven inner cities.
The Clinton Administration launched a campaign to protect America's children from the health hazards of lead-based paint in November. HUD, the Environmental Protection Agency, state and local governments, and industry, environmental and public health groups are working in partnership in the campaign, which is called "Take the Lead Out."
The President's 1999 budget would boost HUD funding for lead-hazard reduction by 40 percent over 1998 levels, to $85 million.
Nearly 5 percent of American children ages 1-5 suffer from lead poisoning -- amounting to almost 1 million children. Among low-income children living in older housing, 16 percent suffer from lead poisoning. For African American children living in older housing, the lead poisoning rate soars to 22 percent.
"America's children need and deserve our protection from lead poisoning," Cuomo said. "Our goal is to eliminate this terrible -- and totally preventable -- environmental hazard so that more children have the opportunity for healthy lives."
High blood levels of lead can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems. Effects include reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems, and behavior difficulties.
Lead is most hazardous to children under age six, because their still-developing nervous systems are particularly vulnerable. In addition, their normal play activities can expose them to lead-contaminated dust, soil and paint chips.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009