|HUD No. 00-69|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Tuesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||April 4, 2000|
CUOMO ANNOUNCES SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION TO BAR HUD AID TO TOBACCO STORES
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced he will support legislation to bar HUD economic development assistance to businesses primarily engaged in the sale of tobacco products. Cuomo has said since last year that passing legislation would be the best way of ending such assistance.
The proposed legislation - sponsored by Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri - would cover all HUD economic development programs, including Community Development Block Grants, Economic Development Initiative Grants, and Section 108 Loan Guarantees. HUD provides funding under these programs to help create jobs and spark economic development in communities around the country in need of revitalization.
"HUD assistance that improves the economic health of communities shouldn't be used to endanger the physical health of families living there," Cuomo said. "This legislation will give HUD the ability to refuse funding to tobacco stores in all parts of the United States."
Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, who is supportive of the legislation, said: "I applaud HUD and Secretary Cuomo for embracing this legislation to prevent federal dollars from being used to build stores that primarily sell tobacco. This legislation will allow HUD to prohibit tobacco stores from benefiting from government economic development grants. I hope for quick passage of this legislation to give HUD the authority to end this practice."
Robbie Callaway, Senior Vice President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America said: "HUD's announcement is good news for anti-smoking advocates. Boys and Girls Clubs of America's mission is the positive youth development of the young people throughout the nation. Secretary Cuomo understands the critical importance of the physical health and well-being of our children, and we are pleased to work with him in this regard."
The National Congress of American Indians had objected to federal funds being withheld from tribal "smoke shop" businesses alone, but said it supports a prohibition against the use of HUD funds for all tobacco-focused businesses.
Joanne Chase, Executive Director of National Congress of American Indians, said: "HUD's support of the legislation will treat Indian and non-Indian grantees alike. With the issue of discriminatory treatment off the table, we're glad to have this opportunity to stand up and be counted on this important public health issue."
HUD's Indian Community Development Block Grant Program has provided funds to one store on the Reno-Sparks Reservation in Nevada that depends on tobacco products as its primary source of income. In addition, HUD funding has gone to fewer than a dozen other businesses on Indian lands that are travel plazas or convenience stores that are primarily in the business of selling gasoline, food, gift items and other products, and also sell some tobacco products.
Tribes can use Indian Community Development Block Grants to provide direct assistance for economic development to businesses, and to provide indirect assistance through infrastructure construction and other improvements that make investment more attractive to businesses.