FAYETTEVILLE – The selected recipients for this year’s Community Development Block Grant program money are ready to be presented to Fayetteville City Council for consideration next month.
There was enough money for organizations that had qualified applicants. Next year’s money pool may consider more applicants if a new advisory board is successful in generating interest in the program.
Community advocates recognize a crossroads when it comes to the limited amount of money available for public services. On the one hand, community engagement is good, and the more organizations know about available resources, the better.
On the other hand, changing who gets what could mean that an organization that needs the money may not get it, or at least not the full amount requested.
The amount of money cities receive for their block grant programs varies each year. Each city must follow the same set of federal rules, but can choose to use the money to meet different needs.
Fayetteville will receive $ 737,911 for this year. The city received $ 741,531 last year, $ 702,439 in 2019, $ 668,915 in 2018 and $ 612,164 in 2017.
Most of this year’s money – $ 470,149 – will go to the city’s program to house people and to rehabilitate and repair homes occupied by low- to moderate-income owners. Another $ 64,072 is intended to bring abandoned properties into compliance with city codes or to demolish them.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development caps the use of the rest of the money. Twenty percent, or $ 114,531, goes to administration. The remaining portion for utilities is capped at 15% of the total, meaning that charities have requested to receive a portion of $ 89,159 this year.
WelcomeHealth, a free medical clinic for low-income families on Woolsey Avenue, will receive the most money of the seven organizations, with $ 20,000. Monika Fischer-Massie, executive director, said the money would provide medical and dental care for uninsured or underinsured patients.
Money is crucial for the operation of the clinic, said Fischer-Massie. This represents about 4.5% of the clinic’s total annual budget of $ 450,000, she said.
The special advocates appointed by the Northwest Arkansas court in Springdale serve foster children in Fayetteville and in Washington, Benton, Carroll and Madison counties. The $ 10,000 the organization is expected to receive will pay one-third of the cost of $ 30,000 to advocate for 25 foster children, said Colleen Smith, director of development and marketing. The money supports the salaries of supervisors who oversee volunteers who advocate for children, she said.
“To serve every foster child, as we’ve been doing since June 2019, in some ways each funding source is more critical,” Smith said. “We continue to grow as an organization, so our needs continue to grow. “
The city is expected to receive the money a few weeks after the July 6 council meeting, if it approves the allocation, said Yolanda Fields, director of community resources. Budgeting is tricky because the federal government works on a different schedule than the city, and the result is that the city receives the money in the middle of the calendar year, she said.
Council will also have before it the latest draft of the city’s five-year consolidated community development grant plan. The 130-page plan is largely a vision document with facts and figures about the city’s economic makeup, Fields said. The Community Resources Division comes up with a specific plan each year using the guidelines from the consolidated plan, she said.
The federal government must approve all plans that go through city council. There are strict rules for the use of money. A representative from each organization requesting money must attend a workshop the first week of August describing them all.
Public feedback to shape each year’s plan has been historically low, Fields said. The 30-day public comment period required by the federal government seldom generates much comment, if any. The public meeting that the federal government is forcing the city to hold often takes place without anyone showing up.
The city council created a new advisory board in December to replace the city’s employee committee, which previously prioritized the list of candidates. The council is made up of advocates for housing and homelessness services, community food systems, residents and small business owners.
The previous committee was made up of staff from municipal planning departments, community resources, police and firefighters. Former board member Kyle Smith sponsored the measure creating the new board because he wanted to bring together a wider area of interest to sift through nominations, he said.
“We need to make sure that we spend these limited public funds in the way that will have the most impact,” Smith said. “Maybe these are the same groups that have been receiving it all this time. Or maybe it’s time to review and make sure we’re still having the greatest impact possible, and if not, the reassignment is appropriate. “
Part of the goal of the new board is to increase community engagement, said Ashlee Hicks, board chair.
The board of directors held its first meeting in May. By September, it will prioritize applications.
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Global Community Development Grant
Fayetteville proposes to use the federal money in the following manner to meet the needs of the community for this year. The public comment period ends Tuesday and can be provided at bit.ly/faycdbg.
• Housing – $ 470,149: Rehabilitation and repairs to bring low- and moderate-income owners occupied homes up to standard, and to increase energy efficiency and solve lead-based paint problems. Also includes the costs of managing and monitoring the town’s Hearth housing program.
• Administration – $ 114,531: Salary and benefits for staff, office supplies, training costs and other costs associated with the administration of community development activities.
• Redevelopment – $ 64,072: Code compliance, clearance and demolition of properties and structures in the city.
• WelcomeHealth – $ 20,000: Part of the cost to provide free medical and dental care to low-income uninsured or underinsured families.
• OneCommunity – $ 14,770: Support the Feed Your Brain family literacy program.
• Magdalene Serenity House – $ 13,000: A potion from the salary of a full-time Resident Support Specialist.
• CASA de NWA – $ 10,000: Advocating for the rights of abused and neglected children in the city.
• Central United Methodist Church – $ 15,000: Quick relocation assistance for families and individuals.
• LifeSource International – $ 10,000: A portion of the cost of the Kid’s Life Daycare and Summer Day Camp program.
• Yvonne Richardson Community Center – $ 6,389: Hire a staff member for the Kids’ Nite after-school program.