ALBANY — Programs will likely be eliminated and staff laid off after city of Albany officials received word that the Federal Government has slashed their Community and Economic Development Department budget by as much 37 percent.
The department, which is funded solely by federal tax dollars administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, oversees two main funds — the Community Development Block Grant program and the HOME fund, which promotes initiatives for low-to-moderate income housing.
DCED Director Latoya Cutts called the cut to the city’s allocation “substantial.”
“We expected that there would be some level of cuts, but in terms of how deep those cuts would be ... cuts at this level are substantial,” Cutts said. “It’s going to impact us in a number of ways.”
The city’s CDBG fund went from $1,238, 630 in FY2011 to $755,278 this fiscal year, a drop of 27 percent.
The cut to the HOME fund was much more substantial.
In 2011, that fund was allocated $577,990. This year, that number dropped by 36.7 percent to $366,120.
Cutts said that unless alternative measures are made, her staff will likely be cut and programs shuttered.
“It means we’re really going to have to take a close look at all of our programs and prioritize those programs that are identified in our consolidated master plan as the ones with the greatest need,” Cutts said. “And when the funding runs out, the programs left will likely be cut.”
When asked if her staff members, which are paid solely from the two programs, will be impacted, Cutts said simply, “Yes.”
Ironically, the decision to cut Albany’s funding allocation came because the city, comparatively did better managing the recession than others.
The cuts are a direct result of data obtained from the 2010 census which showed that while Albany did lose population and saw a spike in unemployment, it fared much better than other larger entitlement cities who got hit harder by the bursting housing bubble and the Great Recession.
The situation, however, is also impacted by pressure in Washington to trim funding for social and entitlement programs.
Cutts says that her office is currently working on putting together a contingency that would involve submitting a first budget request from the city commission to ask that the board subsidize a portion of the DCED programs using the upcoming FY2013 budget.
The CDBG program currently funds programs that help low-to-moderate income homeowners weatherize their homes to make them more energy efficient and reduce utility bills, provide emergency repairs to homes, provide facade grants to commercial businesses and startup financing for commercial businesses.
The HOME program provides funding for programs like one that helps homeowners rehabilitate their homes, and supplemental financing for low-to-moderate income people who are buying homes.