Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Without a Plan, Paterson Could Lose $4.3M in Funding

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Without a Plan, Paterson Could Lose $4.3M in Funding

Article excerpt

PATERSON - The city is in danger of losing $4.3 million in federal housing funds this year unless it meets two separate deadlines for spending and earmarking the money, government documents show.

The first deadline is July 31, when $2.5 million awarded in 2009 under a federal investment program must be spent, the documents say.

The second deadline is Oct. 31, when $1.8 million in program funds awarded in 2012 must be earmarked to specific projects under a December status report by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"This is troubling," said Councilman Kenneth Morris. "I don't know if we have sufficient time to do this. You can't microwave these things. If we had projects ready to go, we wouldn't be in this situation."

Paterson lost about $3.5 million in housing program funds in recent years for not spending or earmarking money by deadline. The city avoided losing $1.5 million in September with a last-minute allocation to a housing project being handled by the New Jersey Community Development Corporation. But that effort came under criticism from some council members who said the project bypassed the city's normal approval process.

The risk of losing more federal housing money was brought to light at a Tuesday council meeting by David Gilmore, a community activist who is running for mayor. He asked officials what was being done by the city's Community Development department to find ways spend the funds before they were lost.

Councilman Julio Tavarez, who heads of the community development committee, accused Gilmore of exaggerating the urgency of the situation by "yelling fire." Tavarez added, "There isn't even smoke yet."

The councilman said that Lanisha Makle, the Community Development director, was working to resolve the situation. "The department, I hope, will get it done," Tavarez said.

The city awards housing funds it receives from the federal government to private entities, which are supposed to use the funds for housing developments. …

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