Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples Assemblymember
Crystal D.

Reports to the

Summer 2008

house Subprime woes addressed
by State Budget

The new developments included in the final state budget will help stabilize the state’s housing market, provide more supportive, affordable, workforce housing and combat subprime lending. The state’s budget provides $303 million, which reflects an
additional $200 million that the Assembly was able to secure on top of the Governor’s proposed $103 million in aid.

Even with the current state of the economy, housing is one area that can not be ignored. Funding much needed housing initiatives are imperative to improving the quality of life of New Yorkers and providing the groundwork for a strong, healthy economy. This budget assists those affected by subprime lending to navigate these harsh times and keep the homes that they have worked for.

“Subprime lending victims are present not only here in this state but are part of a national crisis. The best chance for people to save their homes is with committed financial and legal assistance from the state. The unethical practices of the mortgage industry need to be addressed and it is the Assembly’s duty to address these issues,” she said.

This year’s budget includes significant capital funding for various programs including but not limited to; $60 Million to the Low Income Housing Trust Fund; $54 Million to the state Housing Finance Agency; $45 Million for the Affordable Housing Corporation; $36 Million to the Homeless Housing Assistance program; $5 million for the Main Street program; $4 Million to the Access to Homes program and $3.5 Million for the Urban Initiatives program.

The budget also supplies $25 million for the Assembly created Subprime Foreclosure Prevention Services Program through the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The program offers grants to non-profit organizations and legal service providers to provide counseling, mediation and legal representation to victims of sub-prime lending facing default or foreclosure on their property. Peoples stated, “With thousands of New York households in default or facing foreclosure, action to remedy this crisis is a major priority. We can not sit back idle while many homeowners are at risk of losing what they have worked so hard to get; a piece of the American dream of homeownership,” she said.

Peoples challenges YOU to
read more this summer

photo Summer Reading Challenge participants with their parents and Assemblymember Peoples outside her District Office.

“Reading is the key to lifelong learning and should be integrated into everyday activities. You can read on the bus, on the way to work or school, when you are relaxing at the park or during vacation. You would be amazed at the benefits of reading,” Assemblymember Peoples exclaimed. The Assembly encourages New York State residents to take the initiative to expand their vocabulary, reading and writing skills by reading more often as part of its annual Summer Reading Challenge.

Last year, six children participated in Peoples’ Summer Reading Challenge. JaVonna Young, Shaair McDuffie, Albert Hawkesworth, Ja-Quane Young, Cynthia Hawkesworth and William Hawkesworth were awarded “Excellence in Reading” certificates for participating in the 2007 Summer Reading Challenge. To earn a New York State Assembly Reading Certificate, children must read with a parent for 15 minutes a day for at least 40 days during July and August.

Some of the benefits of reading include children increasing their vocabulary, which can greatly contribute to their reading achievement. As a result, the doors of communication open as more children share their reading with others and talk about other interesting books. In addition, children are more likely to visit the library to read more often and discover a vast range of topics and interests.

Assemblymember Peoples said the initiative is part of the Assembly’s commitment to focusing on the importance of a quality education for our children. For more information on Assemblymember Peoples’ Summer Reading Challenge, please contact the office at 716.897.9714 or e-mail Adia Jordan, Communications Associate at The Summer Reading list can be found on her Web site,

“Funding the Hopes for Higher Education”

The state budget will contain $15.5 billion in operating assistance and capital to public universities across the state. The funding will support additional tuition assistance, research facilities, revitalization and essential programs to our university systems.

This additional funding will help reinforce New York’s efforts to become a higher education leader through advanced research and better facilities. The Tuition Assistance Program is part of the State’s commitment to access higher education. Restoring the initial cuts to the TAP program and other forms of support helps to ensure New York’s college campuses are both accessible and affordable.

The legislation will bring $38.4 million in operating assistance to SUNY and provides $19.6 million in aid to CUNY which will totally restore the 2.5 percent cut in operating aid to both systems, as well as partial restorations to prior operating aid cuts. The budget will also include $390.1 million in additional assistance to SUNY Community Colleges and $207 million to CUNY Community Colleges.

The final state budget will bring $450 million in capital to SUNY hospital backed projects. In addition, nearly $5 million is earmarked for nursing education programs, including nearly $2 million in funding in funding SUNY nursing programs, nearly $2 million for CUNY schools, and nearly $1 million for nursing program at private college and universities.

Highlights of the bill would provide:

  • $15.4 million in restoration to the TAP program;

  • No tuition increases for SUNY and CUNY in 2008-09;

  • $4.1 billion to SUNY and $1.8 billion to CUNY for capital projects as part of a new five-year plan.

The budget plan supports restoring opportunity programs such as Higher Educational Opportunity Program, Educational Opportunity Program, the Liberty Partnership Program, and College Discovery to funding levels enhanced by the Legislature in 2007-08. Additional restorations are provided for teacher opportunity and nursing program at independent colleges to 2007-08 funding levels.

“Creating Gateways and Tourism”
$7.5 billion in capital project funding

Over $7.5 billion was allocated for capital projects in the State budget. It includes $1.5 million for strategic economic development projects and over $5.9 billion for higher education capital projects. Necessary infrastructure improvements and major changes that are sorely needed will be assisted. Secondly, economic activity will be generated by creating jobs and boosting the state’s economy. The major capital projects will add a dimension of improvement that residents can see.

In the Buffalo area, $38 million was allocated to supplement funding with the UB Gateway and Urban Technology Incubator project. The Allen Hall Gateway project offers an opportunity to create a bridge between the local community and campus population. By transforming its image, and creating a welcoming new entrance, plans are underway to create a community union by establishing the Gateway as a portal. Allen Hall currently houses the WBFO radio station, the Center for Community Partnerships, and a 150 seat theater. Furthermore, renovations to the indoor theater and new landscaping to connect the facility to Main Street and the rest of campus, will occur in the near future. Additionally, UB will receive over $100 million towards its Clinical/Transitional Research Facility.

On the campus of Buffalo State College, the Science building will be renovated in a two-part phase to the tune of $93.3 million, which will add the latest technology to the institution’s classrooms. “Not only will these projects improve the campuses and increase learning opportunities for our college students, but they will create local jobs and help boost the economy that so desperately needs it,” stated Assemblymember Peoples.

The Buffalo Revitalization Neighborhood Renewal initiative will receive $15 million marking the State’s dedication to the rebuilding of Upstate New York and particularly Buffalo. The Grand Hyatt Hotel as part of the Buffalo Downtown Convention Center project will receive $1.7 million to further develop downtown Buffalo’s increase in tourism and attractions to become a host site of major conventions. “I am optimistic about the future that Buffalo holds because of the presence of its colleges and universities and their commitments to their local communities,” exclaimed Peoples.

MWBEs and Small Businesses:
Making Them Count


Peoples, Chair of the Subcommittee on the Oversight of Minority and Women Owned Businesses in the Assembly, is proud to announce the Assembly’s passing of a package of bills designed to give small businesses the help they need to thrive in New York State. Peoples said this legislation gives small businesses — one of the key foundations of the state’s economy — a push in the right direction to steer our economy to a better position.

“According to U.S. Census data, small businesses are the source of up to 80 percent of all new jobs in our country. We need to do what we can to bolster and encourage small-business growth in our state — that’s why the Assembly has taken great steps to ensure resources are available to assist new businesses and help existing companies grow,” Peoples stated.

Specifically, the legislation provides state assistance to aid in the expansion of small businesses throughout New York; establishes a competitive grant program for small businesses to seek new markets and niche products and work with small manufacturers to identify and develop these markets and products. The Excelsior Linked Deposit Program because of this state aid can be utilized by credit union to help businesses gain greater access to capital. Furthermore, a deferred installment plan will be offered to small businesses for telephone service installation, initiation and a non-recurring maintenance charge.

The legislation establishes a procedure requiring certain state agencies and authorities to submit a goal plan and to establish compliance reporting of goals in order to improve the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses on state contracts. Additionally, it increases funding for the Minority and Women Business Enterprise program by requiring the state comptroller to establish a specific MWBE implementation fund.

It also requires free, daily online publication of New York State Contract reports to expand the notification of business opportunities to MWBE members. Furthermore it requires New York agencies to post contractor utilization plans on their Web sites to ensure MWBE members get the work promised them (A.3330), establishes a mentor-protégé program for small, minority- and women-owned businesses and improves the MWBE program by encouraging joint ventures, partnerships and mentor-protégé relationships between prime contractors and minority- and women-owned business enterprises

While large corporations have established inroads to gaining state or federal aid, Assemblymember Peoples said smaller companies are too often overlooked. “Small businesses and new entrepreneurs deserve the same opportunities to succeed that larger companies enjoy,” Peoples said. “This kind of assistance – especially in the current economic climate – will help businesses get off the ground, and give entrepreneurs a chance to achieve the American dream.”

The Assembly also passed a resolution proclaiming March 27th as Small Business Day in New York State.

Peoples reports Healthy Teens Act will combat sex education misinformation


Peoples announced that legislation she supported establishing an age-appropriate sex education grant program, known as the Healthy Teens Act passed the Assembly. “This bill addresses the very serious issues of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.” Although, nationwide, teen pregnancy rates have declined over the past decade, New York still reported almost 40,000 teen pregnancies in 2004 and the occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases among teens remains at a dangerous level.

Under the Healthy Teens Act, the Department of Health will distribute grants to school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and school-based and community based health centers with a proven history of success in reaching the adolescents of New York. The grant money will help these organizations conduct comprehensive, age-appropriate educational programs aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies and the transfer of sexually transmitted diseases among teens.

“The State is facing a public health crisis. We can not continue to sweep these problems under the rug and ignore the issues. We must support programs in our neighborhoods so that the necessary information is in the hands and minds of those who need it the most; our teens.”

According to the Centers of Disease Control, national rates of Chlamydia and gonorrhea are highest among young adults ages 15 to 24, and New York is no exception. In fact, some communities in New York State claim to have some of the highest teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rates in the country.

“Statistics have shown that intensive educational programs that have national participation have a dramatic effect on a teenager’s decision-making skills regarding sexual activity. It is time of parents to ask questions, get involved and inform their children about how they can protect themselves,” Assemblymember Peoples commented.

Funding of over $1 Billion for Upstate Economic Revitalization in 2008-09 State Budget

One of the biggest problems facing Upstate New York is the struggling economy. No longer booming manufacturing cities, places like Rochester and Buffalo are struggling and are in need of State support. The final state budget addresses this need by providing over $1 billion for upstate communities continuing the Assembly’s longstanding goal of revitalizing Upstate New York.

The budget provides continuing capital support to upstate communities for the Restore NY Communities Initiative, to clean-up and revitalize destroyed and aging neighborhoods and restore hope in these distressed communities. Dilapidated, vacant buildings diminish property values, reduce the tax base, discourage reinvestment and foster criminal activity. By restoring these structures that are run-down and infested, we can empower homeowners to help revitalize our neighborhoods.

The budget also includes funding for the Upstate Agribusiness Fund ($40 million); the Empire State Development Corporation Job and Investment Programs ($25 million); the Housing Opportunity Fund ($100 million); the Parks Capital Program ($70 million); the NYSTAR Programs for High Technology and the Investment Opportunity Fund ($30 million). Moreover, $5 million was given to expanding universal broadband access and $4 million for upstate business marketing.

Assemblymember Peoples stated that she fully supports the Upstate Revitalization Fund as it will hopefully fill in the gap caused by the lack of investment during previous administrations. Peoples also pointed to the Assembly’s reinstatement of $3,380,549 to the Buffalo region as part of the Aid to Municipalities Program. In total, over $171,751,478 in funding will be delivered to the Buffalo economy as a result of the State’s commitment to local communities.

The Bridge to China:
Peoples travels to Beijing, China
Trade Mission to China with other State Legislators

Assemblymember Peoples was part of the 2008 New York State Legislators Trade Mission to China that traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai, China on April 21, 2008. The week-long trip hosted by John Wang, President of the Asian American Business Development Center, was part of an ongoing effort to promote greater New York-China trade development. Peoples was invited to be a Delegate along with Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak (143rd District) and NYC Councilman Larry Seabrook. The delegation was able to gain insight, discuss and explore opportunities for facilitating increasing business and trade activities between New York State and the most economically developed cities and provinces in China.

The expedition allowed Assemblymember Peoples and the other delegates the opportunity to experience China’s economic progress and prosperity first-hand and a better understanding of their methods of business. The trade mission was organized with special assistance and support by the Chinese Consulate General in New York and coordinated by the Chinese Peoples’ Institute of Foreign Affairs. The office of New York State Senator Malcolm T. Smith was the Legislators’ liaison in the coordination of this trip.

“China is an amazing country; many of its streets and sidewalks are clean beyond imagination. The vision of Hangzhou and Beijing are that of progressive and evolving cities. Their culture and historical traditions are embedded in the fabric of their everyday life. Luxury stores, such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and other designers are a commonality, which speaks volumes about China, its Gross National Product and how it relates to the spending power of the Chinese, because of trading between China and the rest of the world,” Peoples said. “The fact remains that the U.S. continues to partner with China in widespread trade and foreign affairs.” The trip funded without the use of any tax-payer money, included a “Taste of New York” reception, that represented ten New York State food and beverage companies and explored a ‘taste’ of what New York, its food and culture have to offer China.

Shortly thereafter, Assemblymember Peoples was invited to become a member of the Board of Advisors for the newly established New York in China Center in Beijing and also of the Asian American Business Development Center in New York City. “The State is in the position to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities to do business with China and tap into the vast resources available for partnering and investment. I am honored to be a part of this movement representing New York State,” Peoples stated.

A True Friend of Educational Opportunities
Peoples honored with EOC Award

“A staunch friend to the Educational Opportunity Center and a steadfast champion of the educational and public service endeavors that are vital to the university’s mission as a public research university,” stated President John Simpson, University at Buffalo about Assemblymember Peoples.

On Friday, May 23, 2008, Assemblymember Peoples received ‘the ‘Friend of the EOC Award’ after delivering the commencement address at the EOC graduation ceremony. Peoples was celebrated for her leadership on issues related to public schools which have helped to further UB’s commitment to building a strong pre-K to 16 educational continuum in partnership with Buffalo schools. In addition, her advocacy to strengthen vital education programs through the attainment of much needed funds has been truly appreciated by the Center. Over the course of Assemblymember Peoples’ tenure in the Assembly she has delivered over $26 million to support the University at Buffalo- Educational Opportunity Center.

piggybank College Savings Fund Expanded

Assemblymember Peoples announced that Governor Paterson signed a bill into law that eases restrictions to the New York State College Choice Tuition Savings Program, allowing relatives, employers and others to contribute to state-sponsored college savings accounts. Program participants will now have the ability to quickly accrue more money in their accounts, thereby alleviating some of the financial burdens of college expenses. “Saving for college, has been become more of an arduous task in recent years due to the rising costs of tuition and inflation. Families need to start saving early, and under this new law they’ll be able to boost contributions to their college savings accounts,” stated Assemblymember Peoples.

The New York State College Tuition Savings Program, conceived in 1998, presents a flexible low-cost option to saving for college, through contribution to accounts- called 529 accounts- which are tax deductible for New York State residents who open an account and any withdrawals for qualified higher-education expenses are tax free. The program currently has about approximately 600,000 accounts and has aided New Yorkers in saving $8.3 billion for college expenses. However, in the past five years more than 20,000 checks totaling $57 million were rejected from being applied to program accounts because they were not submitted by the account holder.

“Now family members and friends can play a part in the financing of dreams of higher education. The generosity of loved ones can be accepted towards a greater cause than any gift- but towards the gift of an education—the gift that is intangible and lasts forever,” affirmed Peoples.

Peoples’ bill for HIV/AIDS prevention information distribution to inmates before Governor for Signature

The Assembly and Senate gave final approval this week to legislation (A.8849-A/S.8508) that requires New York correctional facilities to provide people in prison with information about the prevention of HIV, and how to obtain HIV-testing and counseling services upon release.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples (D-Buffalo) and Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn), has been sent to the Governor Paterson for approval before becoming law.

The NYS Department of Correctional Services reports that as of January 1, 2007, there were 63,304 people in state correctional facilities, of whom 60,445 were men and 2,859 were women. More than 51% of this population is African-American and 26% is Hispanic.

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples said that “according to a recent study by researchers at D.C. Berkeley, the high rate of African American men in incarceration may also have played a role in the rapid spread of HIV throughout African American communities. Berkeley researchers discovered that the increase in AIDS among Black Americans closely corresponds to the rise in incarceration rates of black men over the past two decades.”

“Incarceration is a major factor in HIV-infection among communities of color, African American and Latino/as in particular,” said Senator Montgomery. This epidemic is due, in part “to the fact that prison systems are havens for high-risk behaviors that make the spread of HIV prevalent, including, including intravenous IV drug use, tattooing, unprotected sex between men and male rape and the use of contaminated cutting instruments,” said Senator Montgomery.

In 2000, The Correctional Association of New York released a Health Care in New York State Prisons report, which stated, “The New York State prison system has the highest percentage of HIV-positive inmates than any other state prison system in the country. Yet, site visits to 22 prisons revealed uneven care, medical staff who lacked basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and inmates who reported they had no idea how to get an AIDS test.

When prisoners return to society, the health care they received while confined will affect the public health of the community at large. For example, every inmate who enters prison HIV-positive, or who becomes HIV-positive during incarceration and remains undiagnosed, returns to the community posing a threat to public health. For as many years as the disease goes unnoticed, it also goes untreated. If life-prolonging HIV medications are not administered in prison, then local communities must pay for the ex-offenders more advanced and costly medical needs upon release.