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Community Development Agency (CDA)

Today, as we continue to talk tangible ways to address the challenges facing our community, I'm going to talk about the CDA.
The Town of Islip’s Community Development Agency (CDA) has two roles: it assists low and moderate income residents through housing and public service programs and it works to eliminate blighted and deteriorated conditions in the Town's neighborhoods and commercial districts.
It is the Town of Islip’s responsibility to appoint the CDA board of directors. Historically, these appointees come from Central Islip, Brentwood, and other areas north of Montauk Highway, which qualify for benefits under the CDA funding. This is imperative as the CDA works closely with its qualifying communities, requiring leadership which understands the issues faced by lower income communities and is familiar with the solutions.
In a surprising move in May of 2018, the Town replaced three of the CDA directors. The new directors are all residents of high income areas and have no experience in community development. This drastically change violated historic norms of having the board comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds and parts of Islip.
The deposed board of directors had reviewed nearly one hundred resumes and interviewed a dozen candidates in a months-long search for a new executive director of the Community Development Agency. The newly installed directors disregarded all of that effort and presented a new candidate to be interviewed, a vice-chair of the Islip GOP with no previous community development experience. The new board of directors then voted him into the position which pays a six figure salary.
This newly formed CDA, under the direction of Islip, has refocused from making a difference in its target communities to directing its funding to beautification and renewal projects. This is absolutely evident in its budget as the funding allocated to affordable housing projects has decreased, and the monies being spent on beautification have increased.
We cannot and do not want to deny that planting trees and setting up a pedestrian island in the Bay Shore Marina adds to the appeal of the Marina, however, the current priorities of the CDA ignore deeper, more damaging issues which they should be addressing. Currently, zombie homes linger in the Town of Islip, creating hazardous conditions and driving down local property values. Young people and retirees are fleeing our area and families find it impossible to find affordable housing. These are the issues on which the CDA should focus.
This is why my team and I pledge that the Town of Islip will appoint directors who represent the parts of Islip which the CDA is primarily intended to help: Central Islip, Ronkonkoma, Bay Shore, Brentwood. These representatives will be knowledgeable and dedicated to the spirit of the CDA. The directors will return the focus of the CDA to its central mission - helping to provide affordable housing for the residents of Islip.

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