$800,000 in State Funding Awarded to Five Projects in the Southern Tier
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced five projects to be funded under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in Elmira. The $800,000 award will help to provide Elmira residents with job training and resources, promote business opportunities for entrepreneurs, and allow greater access to affordable housing through upgrades to multi-family units. These projects are a direct result of ESPRI, the Governor's $25 million initiative to help 16 communities develop locally-driven strategies to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.
"By empowering communities to connect people with opportunities that help them move on a path of economic independence, New York is taking the fight against poverty head on," Governor Cuomo said. "I am confident that these programs will deliver results and help Elmira residents access resources that can help them thrive."
Shortly after the Governor announced the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in 2016, Albany, Binghamton, the Bronx, Buffalo, Elmira, Hempstead, Jamestown, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Oneonta, Oswego, Syracuse, Troy, Utica and Watertown joined Rochester by developing local task forces to oversee community efforts and administer state funding. These task forces worked to identify high-need areas and develop recommendations for investments and other changes to reduce the number of individuals living in poverty, and are now beginning to implement these poverty reduction plans through ESPRI funding.
In Elmira, the local task force has focused its efforts on a target area that includes the same neighborhoods as the city's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The Governor's Downtown Revitalization Initiative works to transform downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise families. In 2017, Elmira was awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization.
The five poverty reduction programs approved for funding in Elmira are:
- Chemung County Department of Social Services, $255,000 - Funding will be used to hire three "community navigators" who will be based at the Transformation Center, Frontline Community and Youth Center, and the Economic Opportunity Program to help people easily access services they are eligible for. Volunteers will also be trained to supplement efforts in each neighborhood. Additionally, hours will be extended at the Elmira Job Center to provide training and guidance to help residents become employed in fields that are in demand.
- Southern Tier Economic Growth, $200,000 - A grant fund for entrepreneurs and small business owners has been created to foster new business development in the target neighborhoods.
- Southern Tier Economic Growth, $275,000 - The "ESPRI Housing Revitalization Gap Fund" has been created to help address the need for safe and affordable rental housing by providing grants to upgrade multi-family housing units.
- Arbor Housing and Development, $50,000 - Arbor Housing will administer the housing revitalization fund and will also work with property developers to line up comprehensive and viable financing strategies that leverage all available local, state and federal resources.
- Chemung County Chamber of Commerce, $20,000 - Funding will support the new Entrepreneur Mentoring and Networking Program to help participants learn about budgets, financing, advertising, business operations; as well as, establishing a network and support system of local business owners.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes that poverty is a social problem that is too complex to be addressed by one entity alone. ESPRI is fostering a collaborative approach between state and local government, non-profit organizations, business groups and local residents that is resulting in coordinated solutions to reduce poverty."
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "It is important to invest in the human infrastructure when we are investing in the physical infrastructure. Elmira's local ESPRI task force recognized that by focusing its efforts on the same neighborhoods benefiting from Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the city will see even more growth and prosperity. Elmira residents and business owners are the winners here as this investment supplements the great work already under way."
Interagency Coordinator of Non-profit Organizations Fran Barrett said, "By empowering low-income residents to develop and implement community-based solutions to poverty, Governor Cuomo is changing the way the State government tackles poverty and income inequality. Elmira and its residents are undertaking system-changing projects and targeted initiatives that will allow low-income families to enter the workforce with dignity, address their barriers to economic mobility, and realize their potential."
Senator Tom O'Mara said, "We welcome these important state investments in programs and services to encourage badly needed job growth, community development and poverty reduction initiatives."
Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said, "We are very appreciative of Governor Cuomo's ongoing financial support to our community. The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative funding, which supports five very important programs, will be instrumental in revitalizing our city. These monies in conjunction with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the Upstate Revitalization Initiative have allowed us to start rebuilding our community."
Southern Tier Economic Growth President Mike Krusen said, "This is a vitally important step in the process of revitalizing Elmira's neighborhoods and downtown and this plan will be instrumental toward our goal of reducing poverty and building a more vibrant community. We are grateful that Governor Cuomo has brought increased focus and funding to help address these issues."
Don Keddell, Elmira ESPRI Task Force Co-Chair said, "The distressed areas we are focusing on in Elmira have experienced lack of quality housing, high unemployment, decaying infrastructure, lack of educational achievement and high crime. These issues are interdependent and we understood early in the planning process that a one-size fits all solution would not eliminate poverty in Elmira."
Andrew Ogunwumi, Elmira ESPRI Task Force Co-Chair said, "A wide cross section of the community has worked closely to understand the issues and challenges surrounding the daily lives of those living in poverty in our community. Our plan is focused on breaking the cycle of economic hardship, increasing social mobility and revitalize Elmira's struggling neighborhoods."
Elmira Mayor Dan Mandell, former ESPRI Task Force member said, "Through ESPRI, Governor Cuomo has empowered local residents and stakeholders to work together to develop and execute a plan that harnesses opportunities that will assist in reducing poverty in Elmira. These efforts will complement those already underway thanks to the Governor's Downtown Revitalization Initiative."
The Governor's Nonprofit Coordination Unit, along with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and the New York State Grants and Reform Team recently held listening sessions across the state to discuss updates with the Governor's ESPRI program, answer questions, and connect local government with non-profit providers and business groups. The remaining ESPRI-communities are all in various stages of developing and enacting their local recommendations and are expected to announce their individual poverty reduction plans in the coming months.