Nearly $600,000 Provided to 10 Organizations to Undertake 15 Community-Based Projects
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced 15 projects that will receive nearly $600,000 through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in Troy. These projects are a direct result of 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.
"With this funding, New York State is continuing its commitment to helping communities across the state connect low-income residents with opportunities that provide them a path toward economic independence," Governor Cuomo said. "Troy will now join several other regions with initiatives already underway to bring positive change and an economic boost to areas of the state hardest hit by poverty."
"We are focused on lifting New Yorkers out of poverty and investing in strategic economic development across the state," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today's announcement. "Cities like Troy are revitalizing their downtowns, but we're also focused on transforming neighborhoods and enhancing quality of life. This funding for projects as part of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative targets opportunities in the Hillside North and North Central communities to provide workforce training programs, housing, education, and support services for residents."
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul announced the funding during an event at the School 2 in Troy's North Central neighborhood. Students from the Troy City School District primary school will be participating in a public art project funded through the initiative.
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, Troy, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown joined Rochester by developing task forces to oversee local efforts and administer state funding.
Initially, 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. The task forces are now beginning to implement the poverty reduction plans developed in the first phase to utilize the funding.
The Commission on Economic Opportunity is administering the funding in Troy, due to its extensive history addressing poverty in the community. The city-based nonprofit is contracting with community-based organizations and incorporating area employers to help low-income city residents in the Hillside North and North Central communities access workforce development programs, housing, education, and supportive services aimed at improving opportunity, financial stability, community engagement, empowerment, safety and beautification, among other goals.
These organizations include:
- Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (TRIP), $300,420: Funding for five projects: a paid property management internship to help community members get hands-on experience ($100,000); a feasibility study for a housing common application, which will help individuals search for affordable housing and offer property owners better tools for finding tenants ($6,000); two full-time positions that will help families identify goals and then connect them with resources to achieve self-sufficiency ($93,624); a community engagement process to address recycling and refuse disposal issues in the Hillside North and North Central communities ($20,796); and the Troy Drug Free Community Coalition, an evidence-based community prevention strategy and empowerment program ($80,000).
- Unity House, $122,463: Funding for two projects: an ambassador program that will offer a paid, 20-hour-per-week job skills training for the hospitality and customer service industry; and Troy LOOK, which will offer year-round youth and family movie nights designed to cultivate positive relationships between youth and adults in the community, start a neighborhood cleanup initiative, and a mentoring program aimed at deterring bullying and violence.
- TAP, Inc., $18,000: To develop Good2BHome, a marketing plan for selling or rehabbing 10 key vacant buildings in the target neighborhood to improve available housing and neighborhood stability.
- CollectivEffort, $10,000: To create a series of videos to serve as a guide to community standards that will be aimed at improving living conditions in the city. The videos will be shared with city officials and developers. The intention is to bridge the gap between the commercial, political, and residential communities and set a new standard of excellence in living conditions.
- Arts Center of Capital Region, $25,000: To establish MY STREET, a community-based public art project involving youth at the Troy City School District's School 2 in the North Central and Hillside neighborhoods. The project will help students build a commitment to their physical surrounding, such as streets and parks, and each other.
- Capital Car Share, $12,500: To create a car sharing program that will allow individuals in need in the North Central and Hillside North communities to pay a monthly membership fee that will allow them to rent a vehicle online or by phone, increasing access to transportation to support job retention.
- Ark, Inc., $50,250: To develop afterschool academic programming designed to support and improve social, emotional, and academic competencies to engage at-risk youth, and provide career exploration and job readiness services.
- 518 Positive Reinforcement, $15,000: To establish TapN, a tap dancing instruction program that will provide low-income children with aerobic exercise and establish commitment to a positive activity while providing an enriching experience that assists the students physically, mentally, and emotionally in addition to teaching critical counting and math skills.
- Troy Boys and Girls Club, $32,000: To create the Career Launch ($15,000) and Future Leaders ($17,000) programs, which will offer career exploration and job readiness skills, in addition to supporting a work force development facilitator to help teens travel to local business and colleges to learn about career and educational opportunities.
- Unity House and the Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, $22,463: To develop a homelessness prevention and financial literacy program that will provide short-term emergency financial assistance and trauma-informed case management to help families avoid homelessness.
Additional funding through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative is available for the city of Troy to enhance the 7th Avenue Park. The city is in the process of finalizing the project and will announce details of the funding at a later date.
"Locally-generated approaches toward overcoming poverty are often the most effective because of their intimate connection to the community. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, this initiative is rethinking the way we are addressing the problems associated with and that contribute to poverty," New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Mike Hein said. "The model developed here and in other areas supported through the initiative are empowering local leaders to address poverty at its root and generate positive change."
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes that for communities to thrive, we must deliver resources to help less fortunate residents. The ESPRI gives a helping hand to those suffering at the hands of poverty, which in turn strengthens community bonds, gives residents a sense of pride, and fosters growth both in and beyond each locality. These are great programs that will help deliver an equal economic playing field so that we can all prosper."
State Interagency Coordinator of Non-profit Organizations Fran Barrett said, "ESPRI continues Governor Cuomo's successful efforts to tackle the root causes of poverty and income inequality. Through ESPRI, Governor Cuomo has empowered low-income New Yorkers to design strategies for removing the barriers they face to achieving economic and social mobility. This is an exciting moment as the citizens of Troy are working together for tangible results. The unique system-changing projects launched today are a great example of the work being done across the state in all 15 ESPRI localities. We applaud the work of Troy's local leadership and look forward to seeing the impact this effort will have on the lives of Troy families."
Commission on Economic Opportunity President Katherine Maciol said, "Each of these projects represents a community-generated concept for improving Troy's Hillside North and North Central neighborhoods -both of which are disproportionately impoverished compared to the rest of the city. Our hope is that the shared vision we've created through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative will help empower low-income individuals and families to overcome the long-standing socio-economic issues that have traditionally stifled opportunity for them. I applaud Governor Cuomo for supporting this initiative, these projects, and locally driven strategies aimed at helping New Yorkers break cycles of poverty."
Senator Neil Breslin said, "These 15 projects that are being funded as part of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative will have a direct positive impact in our community. Reducing poverty and increasing opportunity is a key economic driver for our state going forward and I applaud Governor Cuomo and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance for investing in these locally driven initiatives."
Assembly Member John T. McDonald III said, "The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative provides state funding to communities and local organizations to create solutions addressing the root causes of poverty. I am excited to see that the City of Troy ESPRI will be implementing the projects that have been shaped by those who understand these issues the best. Thank you to Governor Cuomo, the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Commission on Economic Opportunity, and all of the community partners involved in the process."
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said, "We cannot prosper as a city without addressing the challenges of poverty which impacts families in Troy's North Central and Hillside North neighborhoods. The One Troy program, our local implementation of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, has helped develop a grass-roots strategy to interrupt the cycles of poverty in these areas, stabilize neighborhoods, and create new economic opportunity for residents. I commend Governor Cuomo and our state representatives for supporting the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative and providing the funding to undertake these innovative projects in disadvantaged areas of Troy."
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 conducted listening sessions across the state in 2017 to discuss updates with the Governor's program, answer questions, and connect local government with non-profit providers and business groups. The remaining communities are in various stages of developing and enacting their local recommendations and are expected to announce their individual poverty reduction plans in the coming months.