PATAKI SLASHES COMMUNITY MONEY

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The Pataki administration has proposed the virtual elimination of two state programs that provide support for tenant organizing and housing assistance for low-income people.

Governor Pataki’s proposal for the 1998 fiscal year, presented to the state legislature last week, proposes a 75 percent cut to the Neighborhood Preservation Program and the Rural Preservation Program, the two main sources for state grants to community-based housing groups. The NPP dispenses $11.75 million a year to 175 organizations–two-thirds of them in the city–to provide tenant assistance and identify affordable housing for development.

Under the 20-year-old program, groups receive up to $65,000 each year. Under the proposed cuts, three-quarters of the groups would lose funding altogether or the average grants would be reduced to around $16,000. Pataki slated big cuts for the programs in each of his previous budgets, and the state Assembly has restored them to previous levels both times. But advocates fear that the governor’s assault on welfare funding and rent regulation could leave the housing cuts unrestored.

“There are so many issues the assembly is fighting this year,” said Cecilia Tkaczyk, executive director of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State, an affordable housing lobbying group. “It gets harder and harder every year to ask them to keep restoring the program when they have so many other things to worry about.”