Paterson to Allocate $3.5 Million for Homeless Housing – NBC4 New York

The Paterson City Council voted Tuesday 5-4 to use $3.5 million in federal COVID relief funds to provide housing for the homeless, rather than use the money to provide assistance to tenants who owe rent. .

The money is part of a $5.3 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan’s Home Investment Partnership Program.

Despite the vote, several councilmembers agreed that using the money to pay back rent would have been the best way to ensure that Paterson residents benefit directly from federal aid.

Local lawmakers argued that a large percentage of people considered homeless came to Paterson from neighboring cities.

Some councilmembers also objected to the use of nearly $800,000 of the funds for consultants and the hiring of new public employees.

During a public meeting on how to use the money, six council members expressed their dissatisfaction with the plan presented by administration officials.

Councilman Luis Velez said the money could end up being mismanaged, though he ultimately voted for the plan, giving the Paterson government a majority of the necessary five votes.

“If they think they are going to mismanage these funds, they have until 2030 to make sure they don’t,” Velez said, citing the deadline for using the money.

Other councilmembers, such as Al Abdelaziz and Lilisa Mimms, expressed frustration that the administration did not follow through on the City Council’s earlier request that the $3.5 million be used for rental assistance during the pandemic.

The city government notes that federal guidelines would not allow the money to be used to help people pay rent, but councilmembers pointed to federal guidelines that they say allow the money to be spent for that purpose.

Under the adopted plan, $3.5 million will be used to provide up to $1,000 per month for 18 months for rent for 185 people who are currently homeless.

Another million of the grant will be used to build or renovate 10 apartments that would be available for homeless individuals or families. The city has not yet decided which projects would receive that money, nor has it decided which consultants it would hire with $265,000 of the funds.

Paterson plans to hire five new employees with the final $530,000, officials said. That includes a home inspector, two project managers and two monitors for federal funds. Officials said the grant would pay for those jobs through September 2029.

According to the local government, federal officials have recommended that local governments use some of the money for consultants and new employees due to the novelty of the grant.

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