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John Katko supports community grant program that may be phased out by Trump

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Community Development Block Grant funds are used to support Syracuse community centers and a number of programs aimed at providing residents with safe and affordable housing.

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who represents the 24th Congressional District which includes Syracuse, supports the Community Development Block Grant program, according to a congressional office spokesperson.

Katko has also advocated for the program during the congressional appropriations process, said Erin O’Connor, Katko’s communication director. The CDBG program — which the city of Syracuse has used to fund a number of social programs and economic initiatives — is facing its end in President Donald Trump’s latest budget proposal.

“He recognizes its importance to cities in NY-24 like Syracuse and Auburn,” O’Conner said in an email, referring to Katko’s stance on the CDBG program.

Trump’s administration released its latest 2018 budget proposal in late May. The proposal includes the complete phaseout of the CDBG program. The CDBG is a competitive grant available to municipalities that can be used to encourage residential and economic growth and fund social programs.

For the current fiscal year, the city of Syracuse has received $4.6 million through the CDBG. These funds were used to support the city’s community centers as well as a number of programs aimed at providing residents with safe and affordable housing. One program that receives funds is Home Headquarters, a nonprofit that administers loans and grants to low-income home owners in need of major home repairs.

In defense of the phase out, the White House stated in its budget proposal that “the (CDBG) program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated a measurable impact on communities.”

Some members of the Syracuse community, though, disagree with this statement.

Paul Driscoll, the city’s commissioner of neighborhood and business development, said home ownership rates would decline because the city “would not be able to keep several hundred people in their homes that now currently own their homes.”

These particular residents would be forced out of their owner-occupied situation and into a rental situation if the CDBG program were to be cut, Driscoll said. He added that he was happy to hear Katko supports the CDBG program.

“The congressman and I see eye to eye,” Driscoll said.

Christopher Faricy, an assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University, said in an email he believes saving the CDBG program may prove difficult for Katko. While it’s easy to take a position on the issue, it’s harder to actually build a coalition in Congress to protect the program, Faricy said.

“Most districts with large urban centers like Syracuse are represented by Democrats, so (Katko) is fighting his party on this one,” Faricy said.

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