The Common Council took action Tuesday that will allow $13 million in federal anti-poverty funding to flow to community agencies in Buffalo, marking the beginning of the end of a long negotiation between City Hall and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The city and HUD have reached a six-month agreement on how federal Community Development Block Grants can be spent, and a revised agreement between the city and Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency was sent to the Council’s Finance Committee for review.
In a typical year, the block grant funding is released in May or June, said Brendan R. Mehaffy, executive director of the city’s Office of Strategic Planning. He predicts agencies will receive the funds in about four weeks.
HUD had instructed the city that the money had to flow through the city government, not its urban renewal agency, and the two governments have been negotiating at least since June on how to do that.
“[The delay] has put a lot of pressure on the public service agencies,” Mehaffy said.
A HUD spokesman, based in storm-battered Manhattan, was unavailable to comment Tuesday.
The Council on Tuesday approved plans to create three positions in the City Comptroller’s Office, as the comptroller, not the urban renewal agency, will be distributing the federal funds. “We’re glad we finally got agreement, and we’re going to be moving forward,” said Patrick J. Curry, spokesman for Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder.
The positions will be financed by block grant funds.
In other business, Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen said he hopes to take the Council out of deciding whether clubs in the Chippewa Street area can allow younger patrons to enter bars on specific nights, a practice known as “commingling,” because the city administration knows police staffing levels and has control over them.
The Council voted to deny an application for commingling at a Halloween event tonight at Noir Ultra Lounge, 88 W. Chippewa.
“It would be much quicker for the administration to give a thumbs up, thumbs down because they have all of the resources, we have none,” Pridgen said. “I’m not sure why the Council needs a voice on whether a club has a commingling night because on no night can I strategically place police anywhere.”
In the Chippewa Entertainment District, patrons under 21 are prohibited at bars and clubs after 10 p.m., unlike other areas of the city.
The Council had permitted patrons ages 18 to 20 on Thursday nights as a compromise between competing interests in the district, but that provision expired earlier this month, and no action has been taken to lift the ban.
Pridgen, who represents the area, said he based his decision on a recommendation filed with the Council from the Police Department, which cited “past issues with underage drinking, fights and gang activity.”
An application to allow patrons ages 18 to 20 at Lux nightclub was sent to committee for discussion. Lux is requesting that a ban on patrons younger than 21 be lifted on all Thursdays in November.
On another matter, the Council adopted a resolution to reinstitute a task force to deal with problem deli stores. The task force will be headed by University Council Member Bonnie E. Russell.