Neighborhood Preservation Program in Jeopardy

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his proposed budget for FY 2012-2013, has eliminated the Neighborhood Preservation Program. Through the NYS Homes and Community Renewal, the Neighborhood Preservation Program provides financial support for 222 not-for-profit community-based housing corporations to perform housing and community renewal activities statewide. These corporations, known as Preservation Companies, provide assistance including, but are not limited to, housing rehabilitation, home buyer counseling, tenant counseling, landlord/tenant mediation, community rehabilitation and renewal, crime watch programs, employment programs, legal assistance, and Main Street Development. A majority of Preservation Companies are also involved in the planning and development of capital projects including new construction and/or rehabilitation of older housing stock.

Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. is the designated Neighborhood Preservation Company for the neighborhoods of the Columbia Waterfront District, Red Hook, and Carroll Gardens. The organization provides affordable housing to low-income and moderate residents in areas of Brooklyn that are already gentrified or rapidly gentrifying. Our organization, through our economic revitalization programs, workforce training, and resident services, provide assistance to local businesses and help improve the quality of life for residents in our service area.

We need the public’s assistance to continue doing our work of helping low-income residents and small businesses in our community. We ask you to do the following:

1. Call the Governor. Let the Governor know that eliminating the Neighborhood Preservation Program will have a devastating impact in our community. The Governor’s phone number is (518) 474-8390 or (518) 474-7516 in Albany or (212) 681-4580 in New York City.

2. You could also fax the attached Letter to Governor Cuomo letting him know that you support Carroll Gardens Association and the Neighborhood Preservation Program.

Below is our open letter to Governor Cuomo:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

FAX:  518-486-4466

Dear Governor Cuomo:

Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. is a not for profit community based agency based in Brooklyn, New York.  For over 40 years Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. has provided affordable housing and economic development, workforce training, and tenant services and benefits assistance. The organization has developed over 500 units of affordable housing and currently owns and operates 150 affordable housing units.

In order to continue our much-needed work to revitalize the community and boost the local economy, the Neighborhood Preservation Program in the NYS HCR Budget is essential to Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. The 2011 appropriation to this program was a continued cut from 2010 and had a detrimental effect on many South Brooklyn residents and businesses.

The organization had to reduce its housing counseling program that allows us to provide counseling to low-income residents who are searching for affordable housing, nor are we able to provide housing-related workshops. We are also no longer able to assist those who are looking for mortgage counseling or assist those who are fighting foreclosure.

The proposed elimination of the Neighborhood Preservation Program in the Governor’s Budget for FY 2012-2013 will have a decimating impact on the services we provide to the community. No longer shall we be able to provide assistance to local merchants who are struggling to keep their businesses open. We will also have to do away with the Annual Columbia Waterfront District Fall Festival, the Holiday Tree Lighting, and the Toy Drive, that make our community a more vibrant place to live.

Elimination of the Neighborhood Preservation Program would also mean that we could no longer continue with the Free Computer Training Classes and other workshops that train the local workforce to become better prepared to find jobs. We will also not be able to hold the Health Fairs that provide free health services and information to low-income residents and the uninsured, nor could we continue to conduct Entitlement Workshops that inform the needy of benefits that could assist them to survive.

Elimination of the Neighborhood Preservation Program could possibly lead to the closing of an organization that has been a beacon of help to low-income residents in a gentrifying neighborhood for more than 40 years.

The Neighborhood Preservation Program funds have helped the Carroll Gardens Association, Inc.  leverage additional funding in the amount of over $150,000. Many community residents walk into our office for housing and economic development services and are helped on a daily basis.  Whether they are tenants, landlords, homeowners or merchants – they all deserve the best we can provide.

Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. cannot provide the quality services to as many individuals as needed if we have to reduce staff because of budget cuts or delayed state contracts.  Elimination of the Neighborhood Preservation Program could mean loss of affordable housing to the 150 households living in our community, increased unemployment, and possible closure for the many small businesses relying on our technical assistance for merchant organizing.

It is imperative that the Neighborhood Preservation Program be fully funded to $22 million and sufficient funding be allocated to the Housing & Capital budget.  We are aware of the enormous fiscal crisis that the State is facing, but the Neighborhood Preservation Program is a cost-effective economic program with a well-established return on investment.  Help us preserve and maintain affordable housing and a thriving community.

Sincerely,

Vilma V. Heramia, Executive Director

January 26th, 2012