Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino unveiled a series of neighborhood initiatives that he says will change the way residents and visitors experience Cataract City.
“We’re working hard to change the perception of our community,” the mayor said as he announced a trio of programs designed to help residents undertake home improvements and two new technologies to improve the city’s communications offerings.
Restaino, during a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday, said his administration would commit more than $390,000 to a home improvement program, using funding from a Cities Rise grant from the New York Attorney General. The program will allow all Falls homeowners to qualify for a loan of up to $15,000 to help pay for home improvement projects.
These projects could include roof replacement and repairs, siding replacement and repairs, new gutters, porch repairs, garage upgrades and repairs, sidewalk replacements and other outdoor work. The loans will bear an interest rate of 3% and can be repaid over a period of 10 years.
“At a time when everyone is struggling to make ends meet, it can be nearly impossible to save enough money to make major home improvements,” Restaino said. “We hope that making these funds available to our residents will help them make the improvements they want and the improvements we would like to see. »
The Falls was one of 10 cities in New York State to receive funding through the Cities Rise Grant program.
The mayor also launched a program that has been under discussion since taking office. The Sewer Lateral Repair Program will use federal community development funding to help residents of communities eligible for the city’s CD Block Grant repair sewer laterals on and near their properties.
Restaino said that before he became mayor, while practicing law, he realized that many Falls homeowners didn’t realize their responsibility for branch sewer lines that branch off. of their properties. Sewer diversions are the pipes that connect a home’s indoor plumbing to the city’s sewer system.
Landlords are responsible for repairing sewer connections, even if the pipe extends beyond the property line and into a street.
If a lateral sewer breaks, it can cause large craters or holes in a street. The cost of repairing a secondary sewer can reach tens of thousands of dollars.
The new side repair program will allow eligible homeowners to receive a forgivable loan to cover their repair costs. There is no limit to the loan amount.
Owners interested in the Side Program Resident must provide proof that they are the owner and that the property is their primary residence. All taxes and liens on the property must also be paid in full.
Loan applicants must also meet HUD income requirements. City officials said a family of four, with an annual income of $63,100 or less, for example, would qualify for side loans.
To qualify for loans, homeowners must also live in neighborhoods designated as eligible for community development funding. Most of the city, with the exception of parts of DeVeaux and part of LaSalle, is eligible for block grants.
Restaino said Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo/Niagara Falls) provided critical assistance in securing federal funding for subsequent loans.
“Federal Block Grant funding for community development is intended to give municipalities the flexibility to meet the unique needs of their community,” Higgins said. “Older cities like Niagara Falls have aging water and sewer infrastructure and when those pipes fail, it’s a costly headache for residents and the city. This program is an investment in Niagara Falls families and homes that not only builds stronger sewer infrastructure, it also builds stronger neighborhoods.
After side repairs are completed, if an owner continues to inhabit the property for five years, the loan will be forfeited. If the owner sells the property, they must pay any remaining balance on the loan.
The mayor said the falls are now ready to move forward with a plan to sell 52 city-owned lots adjacent to residential properties. The lots are scattered throughout the city, and Restaino said eligible residential owners will be notified by mail.
Once purchased, the additional property could be added to a resident’s existing property.
The mayor announced improvements to the city’s 311 call and resolution center. The center largely handles service requests for the Falls Public Works and Code Enforcement departments.
Residents can now call 716-286-4311 to report issues such as potholes, tree and sidewalk issues, snow removal issues, and questions about trash and debris removal. The city has also added a new portal for the 311 system on the home page of the city’s website.
By clicking the ‘311 button’, residents will receive a ticket number and will be able to see the time and date they reported it, the steps taken to resolve the issue and the date it will be completed.
“The goal of 311 is to make our government as responsive as possible to residents,” Restaino said.
And the mayor said the city is ready to launch a new text messaging service. The program will use text messages to deliver important information to Falls residents and anyone else, including tourists who are in town.
Similar to push alerts, sent through apps on smart phones, text alerts will provide instant information and updates directly to subscribers. The system does not require a smart phone, anyone with access to a cell phone can receive the alerts.
The program operates on an opt-in model, so residents will need to register for the service. Subscribers will have a choice of what information they want to receive, including road closures, construction updates, youth and senior programs, sporting events, other activities.
INFORMATION YOU NEED
Residents who wish to participate in the home improvement program should call 716-286-8800 and select option 1.
Residents who wish to participate in the Sewer Lateral Repair Program should call 716-286-8800 and select option 2.
Sign up for text alerts by texting RESIDENT to 716-FALLS-23 (716-325-5723) and following the instructions.