Department focuses on City-wide Housing Renovation and Participatory Budgeting
The Niagara Falls Community Development Department (CD) released the 2017 Draft Community Development Action Plan and Citizen Guide on January 25, 2017, and welcomes the community to offer comments. “The draft is built on public participation, neighborhood investment and constructive activities for our youth,” said Seth Piccirillo, Director of Community Development.
The Draft Action Plan is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Homes Investment Partnership Program (HOME), and Emergency Solutions Grant Program (ESG) at an estimated total of $2.8 million. In recent months, CD has hosted eight neighborhood workshops, conducted a citizen survey, and received competitive applications for eligible projects. The proposed draft leveraged an additional $2.1 million in non-municipal matching funds, for a total of $4.9 million. Highlights include $906,000 for home owner renovation projects, $202,000 for first time home buyer grants, $360,000 for public park improvements, and $485,000 for youth programming and facility upgrades.
CD has organized the following opportunities for the public to comment on the Draft Action Plan before it is sent to the Niagara Falls City Council and HUD for approval:
Public Meeting: CD will host a public hearing on the 2017 Action Plan at 6 pm on Thursday, February 2, 2017 in the Niagara Falls City Council Chambers, and an informal meeting on the 2017 Action Plan called “Pizza with the Plan” at 6 pm on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the Carnegie Building.
30 day Public Comment Period: The community is encouraged to send any comments of the Draft Action Plan to CD between February 2 and March 6, 2017.
As part of the 2017 Draft Action Plan, CD proposes the use of participatory budgeting to plan neighborhood park improvements. Participatory Budgeting, or PB, is a different way to manage public money and to engage people in government. It is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The CD Team is excited to engage the public in this process, as another example of neighborhood projects being most successful when driven by residents.
In addition, the 2017 Draft Action Plan proposes a new city-wide housing renovation program, as opposed to the target area based approach of the past. This plan would include a consortium based approach by CD, Center City Neighborhood Development Corp., Highland Community Revitalization Committee, Inc. and Niagara Falls Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. “We are proud that CD and our housing partners are working together to streamline and improve our process for interested home owners throughout the city. We are all more focused on tangible results than turf,” continued Piccirillo.