New York Senator Charles Schumer says the recently approved mortgage relief bill contains an extra $4 Billion in grants which Buffalo and other communities could use to re-develop or demolish vacant homes.
Schumer says Community Development Block Grants will be distributed by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department and he will push to have at least $10 Million or more allocated to the city of Buffalo. Schumer says Niagara Falls and other communities in Western New York could also get the funding in grants. Overall the state of New York could receive up to $117 Million to deal with so-called urban blight.
The bill's overall intent was to bring relief to many homeowners around the country who cannot afford to pay the mortgages for their homes. They can re-finance into more affordable loans.
The package also provides support and tighter oversight for mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Some Senators questioned a bailout of the two mortgage companies but the measure passed overwhelmingly and President Bush is expected to sign it.
The City of Buffalo has demolished about 1,600 homes over the past two years but Acting Inspections Commissioner Jim Comerford says it is barely a dent in the massive vacant home problem which he likened to an epidemic.
Comerford says the average demolition cost is about $15,000 per home. The city has a goal of tearing down 5,000 vacant homes in five years.
There are more than 8,000 vacant homes in the city.