The next mayor needs to provide more funding for home renovation, said Susan Cartner, 45, of 610 Gifford St. "When we ask about grants, they say there’s no grants for the West Side. They separate us out," Cartner said. "If you look at all the houses around here, they all need work. At this point, it’s nothing we can afford to do."Jacob Robert's response:
"I’d lead with social innovation. Renovating homes is an opportunity to nurture community cooperation, volunteer, provide skills training to youth using education funds, partner with business for materials and creatively focus human resources and generosity we do have, to replace the money we don’t have."Why I agree:
The Syracuse community needs to stop waiting for a magical solution to come down the Thruway from Albany, and needs to stop relying on Jim Walsh to "bring home the bacon" for Syracuse. We need to stop blaming everyone else for our problems, and start to take care of our own challenges. Fostering a community effort to renovate homes, with local corporate and small business backing would be a start. Encouraging the residents of that community to volunteer time and energy would increase the local resident's personal investment in the West Side. Encouraging those who live in the suburbs to help out would help remind the middle class residents that surround the city, that we are all a community together, and we shouldn't just segregate the West Side as an area that lacks the ability to improve.
If funds are available, I believe that Roberts had it right when he said that we should "provide skills training to youth using education funds". Paying people to train local youths in general carpentry, landscaping, and other renovations would provide them with a life skill could lead to entrepreneurial efforts, or employment in other renovation or construction work. (After all there is supposed to be a large building project "coming soon" to the Hiawatha Blvd area, which will need experienced construction workers.)
What else needs to be done:
Edith Brown, 52, of 513 Gifford St., said: "Tell them to clean up the drug dealers. They hang on the street. They sell it like it was candy. You call the police, they chase them away, and they come right back again." The police would have more luck busting dealers, she said, if officers patrolled in unmarked cars. "I've seen kids a young as 12 years old selling that stuff. It's disgusting."I agree, along with an effort to get residents more invested in their community, the next mayor needs to provide an immediate return on their investment, in the form of increased police patrols, increased man power to deal with the gang and drug issues that keep the West Side down. More undercover work, more narcotics agents. The city has begun to make progress in this area, but our efforts should be doubled.
The other candidates responses: (Including one from Howie Hawkins, who I incorrectly said was running for councilor at large, and apparently is running for mayor. My apologies.)
Mayor Matt Driscoll, (D): "From 1999 to 2005, millions of dollars have been dedicated to grants and low-cost loans on the city’s Near West Side. Additional grants (from federal sources) are available to homeowners yearly through... housing agencies.... Unfortunately, we see a decrease in available funds each year. We will continue to advocate for our fair share."
Joanie Mahoney, (R-C-Ind): "Congressman Walsh has brought millions of federal dollars back to Syracuse for this purpose but, unfortunately, City Hall struggles to figure out how to spend it. As mayor, I’ll act quickly to make sure that these home improvement funds get into the hands of homeowners wishing to further invest in Syracuse."
Howie Hawkins, (Green): "I’d create a municipal bank, capitalized in part by city and resident deposits, which would make home loans without the discrimination experienced by neighborhoods like the Near West Side. I’d also stop corporate welfare loans from Community Development Block Grants that reduce funds for housing grants when those businesses fail."