Bruno's Boom

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When it comes to handing out housing money, Governor George Pataki serves the bacon upstate and leaves Gotham the gristle. New York City may be home to 60 percent of the state’s poor–and 80 percent of its homeless–but you wouldn’t know that from July’s announcement of state funding for low- to moderate-income housing projects.

Pataki, who chooses how to spend tax credit and Housing Trust Fund cash, gave the city barely one quarter of the $117 million total. But he was very generous to the man who tried to kill rent regulations last summer, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

According to a City Limits analysis, the state is pumping at least $8.7 million in affordable housing cash into Bruno’s solidly middle-class upstate district, which includes Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. New York City, with nearly half the state’s population, got a total of $29.4 million.

“It’s atrocious,” says Brad Lander, director of Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue Committee, which was among the few city organizations to receive money. “[The city] should be getting at least 50 percent, when you consider the poverty rate and our level of need.”

Bruno has taken a big piece of the newly created $9 million Senior Housing Initiative: Projects in Rensselaer and Saratoga ate up $4.2 million, while New York City only got $960,000.

Even though it has the fifth-lowest poverty rate of New York’s 62 counties and a racetrack that has long attracted the state’s Knickerbocker elite, Saratoga will soon receive a dose of government housing support. The sleepy 6,687-person Village of Hoosick Falls has a poverty rate two points lower than the county’s modest 5.9 percent, but it received $340,000 in low-income HOME funds. Nearby Malta will soon get 82 new units of senior housing; $1.6 million will go to towns in Bruno’s district that were hit hard by last winter’s ice storms.

“The Senator is very much concerned about affordable housing upstate as well as in the rest of the state,” says a Bruno spokesperson.

If any New York City politician did well under the Pataki plan, it was Brooklyn Democrat Vito Lopez, chairman of the state Assembly’s housing committee. Lopez, whose bid to hike the state’s housing budget was vetoed by Pataki in the spring, still managed to deliver $2.5 million to his longtime favorite, the Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizen Center.

In all, the city will see only $6.1 million of the $24 million Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, used to rehab dilapidated buildings. City nonprofits will receive $5.3 million of the $16.6 million slated for the state’s low-income tax credit program.

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