Community groups seek share of block grants, HOME program funds

Published on Tuesday, 10 April 2018 21:40
Written by Skyler Frazer

@SFrazerNBH

NEW BRITAIN - More than 20 community organizations asked the Common Council on Tuesday for a share of funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Every year, HUD allocates money to communities through Community Development Block Grants and HOME programs. This money is supposed to go to organizations and programs that benefit low-income people.

Tuesday’s meeting gave organizations a chance to comment on the city’s proposed consolidated plan, which recommends the programs to be funded. The plan this year recommends funding for 19 CDBG programs and four HOME programs.

HUD has not released its allocations for the next fiscal year, so the city’s Commission on Community and Neighborhood Development used the current fiscal year’s allocation of $1,422,837 for CDBG and $437,662 for HOME programs to create the plan.

Before organizations made their cases, the city’s director of the Department of Community Development, Ken Malinowski, gave the council an overview.

Makinowski said New Britain’s allocations for CDBG and HOME programs have dwindled since the programs were first created, and even the numbers he’s predicting may not be realized.

The city will adopt a consolidated plan in May before sending it to HUD for approval.

During a public hearing, Paulette Fox from the Opportunities Industrialization Center of New Britain spoke about the organization’s new Men of Color program. The program will take male students from New Britain High School and the Satellite Careers Academy and help teach them “soft skills” including communication, listening and learning. The program will help them explore alternatives to college.

“Why men of color? Because this is a group of people who usually fall through the cracks,” Fox said.

Jason Gibson of the Boys & Girls Club of New Britain spoke about the club’s educational and cultural enhancement programs. These after-school programs provide children with homework assistance in a fun and safe environment, Gibson said.

Deivone M. Tanksley Sr. spoke on behalf of the New Britain Legacies youth development basketball program, which does not receive funding in the CCND’s plan. He said about 175 young people participate in this program.

“I was one of those troubled kids who grew up in the projects,” Tanksley said. “I put my heart into this for these kids.”

Tanksley said New Britain Legacies is cheaper than other basketball programs in the area and provides much more to participants.

Speakers were scheduled until about 8:30 p.m.

Last year, a new set of guidelines and policies were put in place for CDBG and HOME program funding.

Under the new guidelines, no CDBG public service grant will be considered for a project costing less than $10,000. The cap of 15 percent of CDBG funds allocated to public service activities will be strictly enforced. No project having received three straight years of funding will be allowed to reapply for funding without taking at least a one-year hiatus.

Also, construction project funding will be limited to projects that are “shovel ready” and require CDBG or HOME funds to fill a gap. No multiyear project funding will be considered for funding.

Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at sfrazer@centralctcommunications.com.



Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Tuesday, 10 April 2018 21:40. Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2018 21:43.