The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation today approved a draft plan that provides financial assistance to residents of Lower Manhattan who agree to remain in the area while also creating financial incentives to attract new residents. The Plan also makes available job training grants for businesses south of 14th Street. The Plan is now subject to a 20-day public comment period.Chairman John C. Whitehead said, "In order to revitalize Lower Manhattan, it's essential that we help stabilize our residential communities, while also encouraging people to move into the area. The Plan recognizes that residents in the surrounding areas of the World Trade Center site have endured many hardships, and yet they have remained committed to their communities. It also recognizes that some individuals may still be reluctant to move into the area due to perceived disadvantages, despite the tremendous progress being made to revitalize Lower Manhattan. This Plan is a sensible investment in the future of Lower Manhattan and will help spread the word that Lower Manhattan is still a great place to live and work."Governor George E. Pataki said, "It is vitally important that we work to ensure that residents remain in Lower Manhattan and encourage others to move into Lower Manhattan, and we'll do everything we can to make this happen as we continue to rebuild the City and the State since the tragedy of September 11th."Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, "This program will further our efforts to remake Lower Manhattan into a vibrant, 24-hour commercial and residential community by providing residents with an incentive to remain here while offering another reason for individuals to become a part of the future of Lower Manhattan. New York City would like to thank the Governor and the Board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for their continued dedication to ensuring the economic stability and revitalization of Lower Manhattan."Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel Doctoroff said, "In order to create a real, viable community in Lower Manhattan, we need places to shop and eat, open spaces for recreation, cultural institutions and residents to make it all come together. This new program is an essential component of our efforts to rebuild and strengthen the community, and I thank everyone involved for working together to make this happen."Empire State Development Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, "Providing relief to the residents of Lower Manhattan is a vital part of New York's renewal and revitalization. Under the leadership of Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has developed a balanced and well thought out proposal that will help this city and state continue our impressive recovery."Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, "This plan will ensure that the residents and businesses that most need help, get help. It will provide financial assistance to people who were put out of their homes and job training assistance to businesses that are courageously working to rebuild in the wake of September 11th."LMDC President Louis Tomson said, "Under the leadership of Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, the state and the city have reaffirmed their strong commitment to the residential communities of Lower Manhattan. This plan will be an integral part of the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, ensuring that Lower Manhattan remains an attractive place to live and work."HOUSING ASSISTANCEThe Plan recognizes that the World Trade Center disaster had an immediate and continuing negative impact on the housing market in lower Manhattan, resulting in higher vacancy rates. To help stabilize and strengthen residential communities in Lower Manhattan, the LMDC has created the Housing Assistance component of the Individual Assistance Plan. The estimated cost of the residential component of the Individual Assistance Plan is approximately $175 million to $220 million. To help encourage individuals to remain in Lower Manhattan while attracting new residents, the Plan provides for the following (members of the press should consult the full text of the Plan for more details on eligibility and conditions):* Rental units and owner occupied housing within the Immediate Impact Zone (defined as the area south of Chambers Street and west of Broadway, and the entirety of Battery Park City) will be eligible for a grant of 30% of the monthly rent (or mortgage payments, plus maintenance costs and taxes for purchases units), up to $12,000 over two years. To provide maximum benefit to lower income individuals, the Plan provides a minimum grant of $4,000 per assisted unit over two years. Existing tenants and owners who occupied their apartment as of 9/11/01 and who apply for assistance will be eligible for an additional grant of $1,000.* Rental units and owner-occupied housing outside of the Immediate Impact Zone but South of Canal Street and Rutgers Street in Manhattan will be eligible for a grant of 30% of the monthly rent (or mortgage payments plus maintenance costs and taxes for owner occupied units), up to $6,000 over two years. To provide maximum benefit to lower income individuals in the area, the Plan provides a minimum grant of $2,000 per assisted unit over two years. Existing tenants and owners who occupied their apartment as of 9/11/01 and who apply for assistance will be eligible for an additional grant of $1,000.For rental units, grants may be made available to (other conditions apply):* New tenants who sign a two-year lease after the commencement date of the program with a term beginning prior to 8/31/03; existing tenants who enter into a two-year lease before the commencement of this program with a term expiring after 8/31/03; and existing tenants whose lease term ends prior to 8/31/03, upon renewal for a two year term. However, for those tenants who sign a lease after the commencement date of this program, the rate must be no higher than the pre-9/11/01 rate for the same rental unit.* The tenant must occupy the apartment and must demonstrate that rental payments are up to date or otherwise lawfully placed in escrow.For owner-occupied units, grants may be made available to (other conditions apply):* Existing owners who agree to remain for at least two years after commencement date of the program; and new owners who purchase between 9/11/01 and 8/31/03 and agree to remain for at least two years.* Only owner-occupied residences will be eligible, although a tenant would be eligible subject to the conditions applicable to rental units. Existing owners will be required to demonstrate that mortgage, maintenance and tax payments are current or have otherwise been lawfully placed in escrow.EMPLOYMENT TRAINING ASSISTANCEThousands of employees were displaced or affected by the World Trade Center disaster. To help provide a better match between the skills offered by affected individuals and those needed by employers, this Plan will provide up to $10 million in grants to businesses in the area south of 14th Street for training. The grants will prioritize individuals affected by the September 11th attacks and will be subject to the following conditions (members of the press should consult the full text of the plan for more details on eligibility and conditions):* The grants are to be used for training and retraining for skills specific to the needs of the business* Eligible firms must employ fewer than 500 people and the maximum benefit is 50% of eligible training costsThe plan was approved at the LMDC board meeting held at One Liberty Plaza in space provided at no cost to the LMDC by the law firm Clearly Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. It is anticipated that LMDC will contract with one or more entities to provide administrative services in connection with the housing assistance component of the Plan. It is anticipated that the Empire State Development Corporation will administer the employment training assistance program.LMDC is seeking public comment on the Plan, which must be received no later than March 13, 2002. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to LMDC@empire.state.ny.us or by mail to:The Lower Manhattan Development CorporationInvitation for Public CommentDraft Assistance Plan for Individualsc/o Empire State Development CorporationP.O. Box 4438Grand Central StationNew York, NY 10017To obtain a copy of the Plan, visit www.nylovesbiz.com or call 1-800-ILOVENY to hear a list of locations where the Plan can be obtained.