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June 25th, 2014

Years Pass and We are Still Waiting!

Lillie Howard

As I was going through some old newspapers I happened to see this editorial in the "Times Herald-Record" May 15, 2012 edition , "New Newburgh Plan gives reason to smile!" Upon reading it I found myself wondering what’s taking so long for this plan to be moved forward. A part of the editorial states that "Whenever developers from out of town come in with promises and plans, the first response is usually skepticism." When the plans center on a large hole in the center of Newburgh, however, and when they include a supermarket, something the city has too long gone without, the more appropriate response is enthusiasm. Imagine a grocery where it would do so much good for so many people. Even with tax breaks that inevitably will accompany any work on the spot, some money will start flowing into Newburgh quickly with more to come as the years go on and the tax deals recede. And imagine the effect a transformation will have at this location, compounding the public investment nearby in the new SUNY Orange campus and giving a boost to Lower Broadway, just an easy walk up from the successful development on the waterfront. While the city government sorts out the plans, we need to hear some cheerleading from those who have correctly identified the troubles in Newburgh and wonder what can be done."

Here we are a little more than two years later and we’re still waiting to see some shovels going into the ground at that site. On the 14th I was down there to attend a "Stop the Violence" rally which was sponsored by Omari Shakur’s NU-V.O.T.E.R.S’ Movement and it was a shame to see how the city is neglecting that property. The grass has been left to grow very high but that’s not very surprising because the Audrey Carey Park on Liberty Street is also being neglected. Anyway, getting back to the New Newburgh Plan, the question is how long is it going to take before we see the Plan evolving into a reality? Could it be because the people that will benefit from that plan are not really wanted in this city anymore? Could it be that this plan doesn’t fit in with the city’s gentrification plans?

Speaking of Gentrification I stumbled upon an article written by Harry C. Alford that was in the "HV Press" on May 2, 2012 and it was very mind-blowing. The article reads: "Oh what wicked webs they weave." Members of the Poverty Industrial Complex had various methods of profiteering off government money spawned from the War on Poverty in 1964.The method known as Gentrification is an effective way to keep poor people poor and greedy people rich. The poor remain so that federal money designed to help the poor keeps coming in and is then transferred to the manipulators. The Webster dictionary definition of gentrification: "The process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displace poorer residents." Wow! This term was first used in 1964-exactly the same time the War on Poverty started kicking in. Trillions of dollars have come down the "pike" and we have none of it. In fact, we are worse off demographically today than in 1964. In Indianapolis the Community Development Corporation got the federal money such as Community Development Block Grants (HUD funds) through the City Council and Mayor and also various War on poverty funding from other federal agencies. They would fund the construction projects in the neighborhoods through neighborhood associations. The biggest thing we came across was that they were overpricing the cost of refurbishing older homes and building newer homes. Why? They were setting the "comparable pricing" of a neighborhood upwards and out of the reach of the current residents of the neighborhoods. Thus, the current residents could not afford new housing and eventually the rising property taxes and even apartment rent would force them out. White contractors would make quick cash; white realtors would have higher commissions; bankers would have higher returns on financing and mortgages; so on and on. Also, housing authorities would get in on the action. They would offer Section 8 Vouchers (rental assistance) to targeted residents providing they would move. Bankers would offer very attractive mortgage rates to Yuppies who would move into these targeted neighborhoods and take Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit for it as if they were addressing affordable housing and helping to eliminate poverty all the while fanning the "flames" of it. All of the above is like they held some kind of convention and showed how to displace Blacks and grab that federal money. Wow!

Since 1964 this is also exactly what has been and still is going on in the city of Newburgh. Wow! Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! Two Years Have Passed and We’re Still Waiting for the New Newburgh Plan to become a reality. Taking into consideration the continous damage that has been wielded against the poor in this community why has there been such silence coming forth from the NAACP, the Ministers, Newburgh Community Action and last, but definitely not least, those officials who were elected to represent us. This is Lillie’s Point of View and I’m just having my say!

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