Tania Concepcion came from the Dominican Republic 17 years ago and has lived in West New York for the past seven years. She pursued the American Dream and was eventually able to purchase a home and start her own hair salon business in West New York. But now, she is on the brink of losing both.
She is just one of the thousands of Americans who are still feeling the national economic crunch despite the infusion of federal stimulus grants into urban communities.
“One has a hard time paying the bills,” she said last week. “I have a property that if I don’t fix the situation soon, it will be going into foreclosure.”
She said that her clients’ own economic difficulties are making things tough for her business.
“The people, instead of going to fix their hair, have to think first about buying the gallon of milk.” – Tania Concepcion
Concepcion has three children. Her daughter just finished college and hopes to be a math teacher, another is in college, and her youngest son is 7 years old.
“I’m frustrated. I have eight months that I haven’t been able to pay my mortgage,” said Concepcion. “This has been an effort of 15 to 20 years and now it will be gone. I feel it has been easier to reach the goal than it has been to maintain it.”
What would she do if her home lands in foreclosure?
“I don’t know,” she said.
Funds for heating, special ed
Concepcion is not alone.
The federal government has been sending money to communities to put back into the economy, although it won’t impact many average Americans.
Much of the stimulus spending in North Hudson is being channeled through public agencies and is funding government and educational needs, but not creating jobs in the private sector.
In West New York, the township received $182,800 for an energy efficiency block grant program to replace Town Hall’s old heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The local housing authority reported received $1.88 million to modernize areas of the public housing for the poor and senior citizens.
They reported that the money created or saved 17 jobs. They say they are less than 50 percent finished with the modernization project.
The West New York Board of Education received $2.1 million from part of a larger amount given to the state to provide special education and other services to children with disabilities. Another $15.5 million was given to the board to improve basic programs that would help children who are at risk of failing to meet the state’s standards.
Even larger grants have been given to the Union City Board of Education, which received $3.4 million to help provide special education services and $30.5 million to improve basic programs for children at risk of failing.
The city received a $30,000 energy efficiency block grant, $555,355 for a homeless prevention and rapid re-housing program, and $362,891 for street improvements.
The Union City Housing Authority received $1 million to improve heating, and reports that the project is more than 50 per cent complete.
For more information on how the stimulus is being spent at a local level, visit www.recovery.org
Do you believe the economy is improving? Comment below. Melissa Rappaport may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org