Niagara Falls will be one of 10 cities and towns across New York to receive funding in the second phase of the state Attorney General's Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement (Cities RISE) program.
The grants will complete a more than $11 million investment over two years, funded by money the attorney general's office received in settlements with big Wall Street banks in the aftermath of the 2008 fiscal crisis.
Phase one of the program, funded in June 2017, granted cities and towns two years' of access to data designed to help analyze and strategically address blighted, vacant, or poorly maintained problem properties.
The new round of funding will provide the Falls and other municipalities with new resources and training to leverage their data into improved code enforcement practices and policy changes. It will also provide an opportunity to apply for innovation grants of up to $1 million to implement the new strategies.
Other communities receiving RISE funding are Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, White Plains, Elmira, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Rochester, and Syracuse.
Cities RISE was designed as part of a comprehensive strategy for helping New York communities continue to rebuild from the housing crisis.
The phase one data provided code enforcement records, tax liens, fire and police data to address and transform blighted, vacant, or poorly maintained problem properties. Phase two specifically looks to enhance each city's code enforcement initiatives through the use of the additional data.
Technical support for the cities will come from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Tolemi – a social enterprise company that collected and created the Phase One data. Harvard and Tolemi will work together to provide the cities with advice and training on how to leverage their data and evidence into operations and policy changes.
City leaders, including mayors and supervisors, will participate in Harvard’s Executive Education Program in the summer of 2019 to discuss key problems in their municipalities, learn from each other’s plans to confront these challenges, and work towards developing new strategies and practices based on their own data-driven knowledge and community engagement process.
“Thanks to the initial round of funding provided through Cities RISE the City of Niagara Falls has made significant headway in combating neighborhood blight through the collaborative use of real-time data,” Mayor Paul Dyster said. “We are grateful to the attorney general for their continued support, and for this latest investment which will allow us to continue the critical work still to be done.”