ITHACA, N.Y. — A spokesperson of Rep. Tom Reed defended the local Congressman from criticisms that he hasn’t done enough at the federal level to help affordable housing projects in Ithaca.
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Mayor Svante Myrick delivered a letter to Reed’s office in Washington, D.C., on Thursday urging the Congressman to vote to reverse federal cuts to programs that fund affordable housing construction in Ithaca.
Brandy Brown, a spokesperson for Reed, said in response that the Congressman had written letters in support of affordable housing on behalf of Ithaca and Tompkins County.
“(Reed) continues to make himself accessible to local officials and offer support to the initiatives that would help Tompkins County,” she said in an email to the Ithaca Voice. “Tom has written letters in the past and is supportive of programs that will help Tompkins County.”
Mayor Myrick, however, said that writing letters of support for Ithaca projects was not the same or as important as voting to boost federal funds that, he says, would help the city dent its affordable housing crisis.
“When you’re in Congress, your vote is what matters,” Myrick said, calling Reed’s letters of support “lip service.”
“(Reed) consistently votes against our interest and I want to know how he will vote this time.”
Myrick says that Ithaca has seen its funding from two federal programs fall by more than 45 percent since 2004 — with an additional 28 percent cut slated in the 2016 U.S. House of Representatives budget for one of those programs.
“Please let me know your position on this matter vital to the City of Ithaca,” Myrick told Reed, according to a news release.
But Brown, Reed’s spokesperson, said the Congressman shouldn’t be expected to make up his mind about a bill before he knows what is in it.
“We need to see the final legislation before (Reed) can say one way or another on how he’s going to vote on it,” she said. “Things change and things change rapidly; we need to see it before we commit one way or another.”
Brown also suggested that it’s unfair to criticize Reed for votes that reduce federal funding for Ithaca housing when this was just one component of a much larger budget picture with dozens of disparate pieces.
“You have to look at the totality of that package,” she said of the budget vote.
Brown added that she encourages other constituents from across New York’s 23rd Congressional District, which Reed represents, to make their views known to the Congressman.
“Myrick was here today and did deliver a letter,” she said. “It’s always great to have people from the district come to Washington.”
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