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Federal Leader Promotes Affordable Housing

By Eileen Buckley

Lancaster, NY – The U-S Housing and Urban Development Secretary appeared in Western New York on Monday. He was here to celebrate National Home ownership month and to promote affordable housing legislation.

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson appeared in front of a newly built home and development in Lancaster along with Western New York Congressman Tom Reynolds. Reynolds has introduced a bill called Renewing the Dream Tax Credit Act. It would encourage the construction and rehab of homes for low and middle-income families in economically distressed areas.

Jackson says home ownership is the best way to elevate families into the middle class.

"The children of home owners do better. They do 9% better in math and 7% better in reading," said Jackson.

But standing in a brand new development in the town of Lancaster, where homes are already occupied by middle-income families, WBFO News asked the federal housing leader how distressed parts of Buffalo can improve.

Right now there are more than 2,000 homes that need to be demolished in parts of the City. Buffalo is working to clear urban blight and remove vacant homes, and build new ones at the same time.

Jackson applauds that efforts. He says that is the best way to rebuild communities and refers to it as smart growth.

"We have made a real effort to bring people back into cities. One of the places we have done it is Orlando. We brought over 100,000 people back into the city. So if we can help Buffalo bring back people, we are going to do everything in our power because we think it is very important to get them back into the City. They bring in revenue as they begin to spend,and create an environment that is wholesome," said Jackson.

But Jackson says the federal government must "agitate" cities to make sure they are getting the job done.

"I encourage mayors and city councils to do everything in their power to use their community development block grant money, to use their home money, their shop money to encourage people to come back to the city. That is why we are giving this money to these states and cities, to encourage development," Jackson said.

Jackson says it is necessary to create neighbors that will entice people to live in urban areas.

Last month the Buffalo Common Council asked the Mayor to call on HUD to help pay for the cost of some HUD owned homes that need to come down. Jackson says he wasn't familiar with that request, but plans to check on it.