Cortland mayor defends city's application for affordable housing funds

CORTLAND, N.Y – Mayor Brian Tobin is defending the city's decision to apply for affordable housing funds that would go towards renovating rental properties for low-income residents.

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Tobin's comments, posted on his Facebook page, come in response to a Cortland Standard op-ed written by Jim Cunningham, a city resident and former director of the Cortland County Probation Department.

In the op-ed, Cunningham questioned the city's ability to accommodate more low-income residents, saying "the city of Cortland already has an enormous number of residents who have nothing productive to do."

Cunningham said such residents are "putting a huge burden for social, medical, legal and special educational services on our eroding tax base, and attract drug dealers and other assorted predators to exploit and abuse them."

Tobin said Cunningham's column "was riddled with opinions purported to be facts, and has an underlying tone that stinks of elitism."

Cortland Common Council voted last week to apply for up to $500,000 in affordable housing funds through the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development's Small Cities Program.

Fifth ward alderman Clifton Dutcher voted against applying for the funds, saying his constituents were concerned about housing for "low-income minority people." Tobin called Dutcher's comments "offensive and appalling."

Tobin said the funds would rehabilitate existing rental housing units for low-income tenants.

"Over time, with industries leaving Cortland, the average household income in the City of Cortland has decreased in comparison to (and is well below) the state average, which makes home ownership difficult at best for many," Tobin said.

Read Tobin's comments in full below:

Answers from City HallAs Mayor for the City of Cortland, I feel the need to respond to Jim Cunningham's Op Ed on...

Posted by Brian Tobin for Cortland Mayor on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

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