BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo leaders are calling the city’s share of the American Rescue Plan their best hope in a generation of tackling poverty and segregation. More than $300 million is coming to Buffalo from Washington.
The Common Council took time off from summer recess, meeting in special session to approve the $330 million spending plan they negotiated with Mayor Brown even though he could have spent the federal money, without lawmakers’ consent.
“Tired of being on a ‘wish list,’ on behalf of my constituents. I want to see work completed in a timely manner,” said Councilman David Rivera, Niagara District.
The American Rescue funds are spread over two years and the city’s largest out of about one-third is to replace money that was lost during the COVID pandemic in personnel costs, city services and to cover homeowners’ back water bills and user fees. If unpaid could lead to their homes being sold at the city’s annual foreclosure auction.
“That is why this plan presents our city with the best hope in over a generation to tackle the root causes of poverty, segregation, and a growing wealth gap for working families,” said Mayor Byron Brown.
To those ends, the money is going toward job training and job creation, raising the fortunes of economically stressed sections of the city.
Council President Darius Pridgen said, “And so these recovery dollars are to do just that, to help our economy recover, but most important, to help people recover.”
Congressman Brian Higgins was instrumental in bringing millions of dollars from Washington and posed the funding as an investment.
“All of us have been through hell, in the past 18 months, as the council president has said, people that were already vulnerable, already experiencing fragility, took a hard fall. That is why we call this the rescue plan. We owe this to our people,” Higgins said.
Mayoral challenger India Walton responded to the city’s spending plan, saying in part when she released a plan getting serious about public safety, Mayor Brown depicted it as dangerous and scary.
Now she says he is stealing her ideas and claiming them as his own.