CDBG allocation meeting held today

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Earlier this afternoon, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Committee held their 2013 allocation meeting.  Chairman Anthony Kennedy opened the meeting with a few introductory comments.   With the new year’s plan, 70% of the funds must benefit low- to moderate-income programs.  “There will be no pitches tonight.  The allocation of funds will be voted upon.  For the 2011/2012 benefit year, 15% of the funds went to public service programs, 20% went to planning and management, and 65% went to housing, urban, economic and development.  Each of the proposals must fall into one of the three categories.  Also, there is the elimination of slums and blight and urgent needs (emergency projects).”

A public hearing was then held.  Kathryn Comstock, former executive director of Women and Children’s Horizons, spoke on future needs:  permanent housing for people with disabilities, long-term employment opportunities, and help for those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.  Karl Ericksen, executive director of the ELCA Urban Outreach Center, also spoke of the homelessness problem.  He also thought that projects should focus on job training as well as financial literacy.

Ashleigh Henricks, executive director at the Kenosha Literary Council, spoke in favor of mental heath services, substance abuse, domestic services, etc.  “People are in a fragile state.  Even if there is an open job, people with the right skills are not found to meet the openings.”

Other speakers included Ray Forgianni, president of the Kenosha Common Market, Jim Buck from the Kenosha Community Sailing Center, George Huffy, president of New Song Ministry, and Trimmer Weiher from Club Breakaway.  Kennedy also read a letter which he received from Pastor Monroe Mitchell, III, from Agape Love Christian Ministries, calling for more mentoring programs.  Forgianni pointed to Kenosha’s 10% unemployment rate, and the fact that it pervades every walk of life.  He emphasized economic development investment in the community, especially in the downtown area.  He called for the use of historical preservation tax credits and new market tax credits.

Buck said that they are working with Boys and Girls Club kids, giving kids an alternate to their cell phones and computer games.  “Twenty-three percent (23%) of the world’s fresh water is at our front door.  One of the girls we worked with last year gave this reply when asked what she liked about sailing, ‘I’m learning how to control the uncontrollable.’  We are teaching the kids leadership skills and recreation.”

Huffy spoke of the prison ministry they perform, helping those who are close to their release dates with spiritual training and eight modular life skill classes (nutrition, finances, family training, employment skills, spiritual values, and sexual awareness).  And, Weiher spoke about the financial needs of the club as it helps those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.

The committee voted unanimously to keep the allocations the same as last year.  Kennedy said, “I don’t believe in changing things just to change them.  I’d rather not reinvent the wheel.  It’s working.  Let’s leave the current allocation to continue.”

Ron Frederick suggested the use of matching Kenosha County drug and alcohol abuse funds wherever possible.  He even went so far as to suggest giving priority to those organizations submitting proposals that incorporate the use of the county’s funds.

It was also unanimously approved that the committee would determine how to best use any unallocated/unused CDBG funds.

The document outlining the program was revised, and is attached here for your information:  2013 CDBG Allocation Plan.

The future timeline includes:

August 6 – Finance Committee and Common Council approval

August 7 through August 24, 10:00 a.m. – Proposal Submission Period

Week of  September 10 – Proposal Interview Dates

Again, Anderson Lattimore requested an electronic version of the proposals, rather than two large hard copy binders.

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