|Date:||July 2, 2021|
By Orlando Dickson |
Each week, PPG summarizes important takeaways from the major Buffalo Common Council meetings. We also include information from Council meetings related to our Community Agenda items.
This week, the Common Council held four meetings. For this summary, we will focus on two meetings: the Legislation Meeting and the Finance Meeting. The Legislation Meeting addresses local laws, ordinances, and general legislation, except for civil service matters. The Finance Committee focuses on the budget and issuance of bonds.
During the short Finance Meeting, the Common Council received a briefing on the 2021 Annual Action Plan from Buffalo's Office of Strategic Planning. An "annual action plan" is a document mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that outlines local affordable housing and community development needs and identifies strategies for addressing them. Buffalo traditionally discusses funding priorities for four programs during these briefings: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).
CDBG is a program for low-to-moderate-income persons or areas. CDBG funds are for home repairs, demolition of abandoned blighting structures, improvements to public facilities – such as community centers, parks, streets, and sidewalks in HUD-eligible neighborhoods – and support for community groups serving city residents. HOME provides formula grants that communities use to fund building, buying, and rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership in partnership with nonprofit groups. ESG funds are to assist people experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness, helping them regain stability through permanent housing and supportive services. HOPWA funds are to assist low-income people who have an HIV/AIDS diagnosis.
Buffalo will continue its emergency repair and housing assistance programs. The City will fund the acquisition, rehabilitation, and resale of one- and two-family structures citywide and assist with multi-family rental rehab projects. In contrast, HOME projects will support continued efforts with substantial reconstruction and new construction. Read the full report here under "2021 Annual Action Plan Summary – Draft": https://www.buffalony.gov/324/Consolidated-Plan-Documents. The Council sent the plan to the next regular meeting without recommendation, pending further common council questions.
During the Legislation Meeting, the Council heard comments from attorney Samantha White on the Right to Know law. She asserted that the law's original purpose is to prevent a confrontation between the community and police when residents want to identify an officer to file a formal complaint. Corporation Counsel for Buffalo removed the part of Right to Know, which requires police to automatically provide their identifying information to residents after any encounter with a resident – incorrectly stating that complaints should go to the Police Advisory Board instead of the Commission of Citizens Rights and Community Relations. Corporation Counsel also removed wording that allows the district attorney to find police criminally liable for not abiding by the Right to Know law. It also withdrew language for terminating an officer who does not abide by the Right to Know law and removed an exception to public protest that prevented police from searching people who were legally congregating.
Council President Pridgen stated vehemently that the Common Council is in no way delaying the Right to Know law and that the body is ready to pass it. The Council said it does not have the final document and that Corporation Counsel had the final document. Corporation Counsel stated the Common Council would have the final document by July 1, 2021. The Council tabled the item until it can review the final document.
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