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Long Beach officials to Trump: don’t cut development grants

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Wednesday,

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Photo Credit: AP

Long Beach city officials have sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to stop proposed federal funding cuts for community grants.

Long Beach would lose more than $400,000 in Community Development Block Grants while 32 other municipalities across Long Island would lose about $19 million in the proposed budget cuts, including $13 million in Nassau County, Long Beach and federal officials said.

Trump’s proposed budget calls for $6 billion in cuts nationwide to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including $3 billion for the community development program.

Long Beach officials this year are applying for the grants for the 43rd straight year. City Council members said in their letter to Trump that the funding would affect job training, youth programs, residential assistance and storm recovery, and upgrades to parks, playgrounds and community centers.

The five City Council members and Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman sent the letter to the White House on Monday.

“Dear President Trump: On behalf of the residents of Long Beach, we strongly urge you to refrain from eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program,” they wrote. “This is unprecedented and unconscionable.”

City officials are looking for alternate funding if the budget cuts are approved and asking federal representatives to negotiate with the president to keep the funding, Schnirman said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing to preserve funding for Long Island senior centers, including the Long Beach Magnolia Senior Center, which has received $200,000 during the past three years.

“Decimating CDBG would be incredibly damaging to Long Island because it is a non-replaceable stream of investment in essential services for area residents and economic development projects,” Schumer said in a statement.

Past grants in Long Beach have been used for homeownership assistance and public housing rehabilitation programs. The city has previously used development grant funds for programs at the Magnolia Senior Center and youth programs at the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center, Schnirman said.

Eligible programs for funding must provide benefits to low and moderate income families, “aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight” and fund urgent projects in deteriorating condition, according to the city’s resolution to apply for funding.

The letter to Trump cites funding for job training, homeless assistance, rehabilitation for homes damaged by superstorm Sandy, tree planting and upgrades to bathrooms to make them accessible. The money for many Sandy recovery projects came through block grant disaster recovery funding, Schnirman said.

The city could also lose transportation funding for the Long Beach bus system, he said.

“This could threaten the existence of these organizations that provide critical services for at-risk populations,” Schnirman said. “This has been a symbol of how critical this funding has been and highlights how significant and shocking it is to see a program like this eliminated.”

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