State funding for Charlie Rangel pet project mysteriously cut

State funding for a pet project of Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel mysteriously was cut by 87 percent last year.State funding for Charlie Rangel pet project mysteriously cut

The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone received just $156,455 from the state, down from $1,289,657 a year earlier, according to tax filings.

UMEZ, a Clinton-administration initiative spurred by Rangel, distributed $1.3 million in the year ending June 30, 2014, half of what it gave out the year before.

It did manage to spend $15,000 to pay a Harvard-based consulting group to study its track record and write a report.

Meanwhile, groups like the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Harlem Arts Alliance got nothing.

The Post has reported how UMEZ has been slow to spend its cash and take on new projects. Critics say it exists to pay the six-figure salaries of its administrators, including its director, Kenneth Knuckles, who made $243,204 in 2013.

Officials at UMEZ and the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which doles out the funding, refused to comment.

By Melissa Klein and Isabel Vincent | May 24, 2015

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