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OCT 07- OCT 14, 2014

Still More Public Housing Underwritten With Your $$$

By Mike Hudson

October 07, 2014

Ironic. This 13,000 square foot mansion on Niagara St and Portage is listed for sale for $291,000, $1,000 less than what taxpayers will subsidize low income housing nearby.

"If you build it, they will come."

In the movie "Field of Dreams," The "it" was a baseball field and "they" were affluent tourists paying good money to see the ghosts of legendary baseball players take to the diamond once more.

In Niagara Falls, the "it" is low income public housing and the "they" are generational welfare recipients, people trying to recover from substance abuse problems, registered sex offenders and paroled criminals.

Housing Visions Inc., a Syracuse-based not-for-profit, is in line to receive a $150,000 grant at a special meeting on Wednesday (Oct. 8) of the Niagara Falls Urban Renewal Agency, an agency headed by its chairman, Mayor Paul Dyster, to disburse federal and state tax dollars to improve the city.

Housing Visions has already been awarded $2.9 million in low-interest loans and tax credits for its $12 million Walnut Avenue Homes project.

The organization is planning to construct 41 housing units at eight properties on Walnut Avenue as well as Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets.

At $12 million for 41 apartments - the cost will be $292,682 per low income apartment.

Housing Visions received $1.2 million through the Low-Income Housing Trust Fund Program; $1 million through the HOME Capital Program; and $727,000 in federal low-income housing tax credits.

The $150,000 from the Urban Renewal Agency comes on the heels of a $500,000 grant to another not- for-prophet, Isaiah 61, to rehabilitate a long abandoned fire hall on Highland Ave. (See related story).

And architect Clinton Brown's "Niagara Falls City Lofts Project," the conversion of South Junior High School to subsidized apartments, is back on track, again with public money.

The $26 million project - at $400,000 per apartment - will be financed by a $7 million New York Restore grant; $10 million in federal grants from the Home and Low Income Housing Tax Credits Program and $6.5 million from the New York State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program.

On top of that, the developer will get a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement from the city that will reduce property taxes to six percent of gross rents. The typical landlord in Niagara Falls pays about 25 percent of rents in property taxes in this high-taxed city.

What could be the motive behind turning Niagara Falls into a city of low income group homes, Section 8 apartments and grinding poverty? Is it merely to prop up population numbers so that the federal and state dollars continue to roll into City Hall to provide corporate welfare to the millionaire developers of hotels, restaurants and other attractions in the downtown tourist district?

Niagara Falls already has some of the lowest housing prices to be found anywhere in the country. For $30,000, you can buy a serviceable two or three-bedroom home in most areas of the city. Why then spend $200,000 to $400,000 to create new subsidized units?

Housing Visions of Syracuse is planning on building cheaply constructed taxpayer subsidized housing like the one above for $292,000 per unit.






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