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Vital Brooklyn funding initiative outlined by Cuomo in Bed-Stuy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on Thursday, announced details of

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on Thursday, announced details of his $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn program. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Brooklyn’s most impoverished neighborhoods could soon have new state funding after the proposal process opened on Thursday for groups seeking part of a $1.4 billion program.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Thursday, said administrators of the Vital Brooklyn initiative are now accepting proposals for funding through the program.

The initiative, focused on a 46.5-square mile area of central Brooklyn, was announced last year and is expected to provides funding for schools, housing, health care, jobs and more in Brooklyn.

State money will go to help 30,000 unemployed people; construct 3,000 subsidized homes at 11 sites; build 30 new playgrounds and community gardens; and fund programs such as midnight basketball. The initiative also includes $700 million for health care.

“You have to give young people an alternative to the street corner,” Cuomo said at the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA, where he showcased his program with a rally and PowerPoint slideshow.

In introducing Cuomo, the city’s public advocate, Letitia James, lamented that central Brooklyn has been, as Cuomo put it, “ignored for too long.”

“For far too long, these communities have only seen piecemeal investments,” James said.

The state money will fund 8,800 projects affecting 800,000 people. Cuomo said he expects most of the projects to be complete by the end of 2020.

Also on Thursday, Cuomo called a proposal by President Donald Trump’s housing secretary, Ben Carson, to raise rent paid by tenants of the projects “ridiculous.”

Cuomo, who two decades ago held Carson’s job under Bill Clinton as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, also took a veiled swipe at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s stewardship of the New York City Housing Authority projects, known as NYCHA.

“I think the suggestion that people in NYCHA aren’t paying enough, especially at this time, is ridiculous,” Cuomo told reporters after his own housing event in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “If I were the HUD secretary today, I would be more concerned with making sure NYCHA residents are getting what they’re paying for.”

On Wednesday, Carson proposed boosting rent for millions of Americans who live in government-subsidized housing and mandating stricter work rules. The plan, among other things, would raise rent to 35 percent of gross income for about 2 million families who now pay 30 percent.

“Rather than raising the rent, the landlord should be worried about bringing the conditions up to code, providing people heat and elevators that work, and security. The problem isn’t the tenants of NYCHA, the problem is the landlord.”

The city housing authority has been long been beset by trouble, some of which predates de Blasio’s mayoralty. NYCHA’s chairwoman announced her resignation earlier this month amid false claims of lead-paint test inspections and failing boilers, and the authority now faces looming oversight by the state and city.


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