CDBG proposals being heard for last two nights

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Twenty-five Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding proposals for 2013 were heard by the committee on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  Each applicant was given five minutes for their presentation, and ten minutes were allotted for questions.

The list of applicants and their project titles were:

  • City of Kenosha, Public Works – Street Improvements
  • Kenosha Common Markets – Community Commercial Kitchen and Marketplace
  • Club Breakaway – Exterior Club Renovations
  • Hope Council, Inc. – Waterproofing at Oxford House Lena (1630 – 56th Street)

  • Kenosha Human Development Services – Juvenile Shelter Care Roof
  • Oasis Youth Center – Site Air Conditioning Project
  • Oasis Youth Center – Director – Fundraising Project
  • Urban League of Racine and Kenosha, Inc. – Energy Conservation Project
  • Urban League of Racine and Kenosha, Inc. – Reducing Employment Barriers
  • Urban League of Racine and Kenosha, Inc. – Sickle Cell Awareness, Education and Testing
  • Women & Children’s Horizons – Building Rehabilitation
  • Women & Children’s Horizons – Legal Advocacy Program – Legal Coordinator
  • WI Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WIBIC) – Business Owner
  • Kenosha YMCA – Frank Neighborhood Project
  • ELCA Urban Outreach Center – Helping Residents Become Self-Sufficient
  • Kenosha Literacy Council, Inc. – Literacy at Work
  • Walkin’ in My Shoes, Inc. – Survival Backpack Street Outreach Program
  • New Song Ministries, Inc. – Whole Person Training Program
  • Potter’s Center – Neighborhood Friendship Support Group
  • Shalom Center – Emergency Family Shelter
  • Kenosha Area Family & Aging Service, Inc. – Volunteer Transportation Services
  • Kenosha Achievement Center, Inc. – Youth Employment Exploration
  • Agape Lave Christian Ministries, Inc. – Youth Program
  • Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha – Gang Prevention and Diversion
  • City of Kenosha – Program Administration/Comprehensive Planning

The writer had the opportunity to sit in on four proposals last night.  They were the ones from WIBIC, the Kenosha YMCA, the Urban Outreach Center, and the Kenosha Literacy Council.

WIBIC requested $180,000 this year.  Last year, they requested $175,000.  The funds will be used for quality business education, microloans and small business loans, and business assistance.  Their annual budget is $3.6 million, and they have a $6 million loan portfolio.  They estimated that, for every dollar they’ve received in CDBG funds, they’ve returned $2.92 back to the city of Kenosha.

Alderperson Tod Ohnstad wanted to know if they’ve had any defaults on any of their loans, and the reply was only one, for $14,000.  Alderperson Curt Wilson wanted to know where the new jobs were being created.  The emphasis is on the downtown area.  Alderperson Anthony Kennedy wanted to know what the average time from a business owner walking into the office to getting a check was, and the reply was that, if a company had a viable business plan, it would take approximately one and one-half to two months.

Kennedy also inquired about loan rates.  Some banks will go with 7.75%, or 3.4% if one uses his/her home as collateral.  CDBG loans are normally 5%.  Plus, there is a minority loan fund which provides loans at 2%.

Kenosha’s YMCA had an entourage accompany them to the proposal meeting.  Pat Monaco, president, was in attendance.  Sheriff David Beth, Pat Demos, and parents and kids who’ve benefited from the Frank Neighborhood Project also filled the room.  This is a collaborative effort with the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD), the YMCA, and the Sheriff’s Department.  “It changes lives.”

Beth quoted the number of service calls since 2007.  The number went from 1,511 to 1,102 in 2011, a 32% decrease over the five-year period.  A testimonial was given by a young boy.  “I could be in the street doing stupid stuff, but no.  The Frank Neighborhood Project has done a lot for me and my family.”  Tom Audio, one of Frank’s teachers, spoke about Pastor Harris.  “He’s everywhere.  The kids respect him because he is a minister, and he is a black man.”  Another young boy spoke about his being influenced with basketball and good grades.  Kennedy wanted to know if he would bring his friends to the program, and the young boy said, “Yes.  Kids need a man to look up to.”

Kennedy asked Harris if he could help with the crossing guard situation at Frank, and Harris said that he would.  Kennedy said that “the children are listening.  It’s the parents who aren’t.”  To read about this issue, click here:  Frank Elementary School Crossing Guard.

Karl Erickson, executive director of the ELCA Urban Outreach Center, was next.  One of their key programs is the GED Program.  Juan Torres, the GED instructor, spoke about the program.  “It’s not just money coming into the center,” he said, “it’s an investment.  It is working.”

Summer camp is another program for which funds are being requested.  They’ve been doing a camp for first through 5th graders, and the proposal is to now open that up and add a sixth grade camp.  This is a six-week program.

Two little girls spoke about the camp.  One spoke on what she liked most about the camp, “We had good food, summer camp, healthy food, and field trips.”  When asked what her favorite field trip was, the little girl’s sister said, “Rainforest Cafe.”  Lattimore wanted to know what kind of food they ate, and the little girl replied, “Tacos, nachos, and cheetos.”

Ashleigh Henrichs, executive director of the Kenosha Literacy Council, then gave her presentation.  Their mission is to help adults learn to speak, read and write English to help them gain meaningful employment within the community.  They feel there is a need for the services they provide because the number of foreign-born residents has increased by 30% since 2000. They are the only non-profit agency in the city to provide English language skills to adults.  Part of their work is to then connect employers with motivated adults.

Most of the adults that come to the Kenosha Literacy Council are at a fifth grade reading level or less.  The Council had 399 active students at the end of the year.  Five years ago, they had 300.  For the past three years, they’ve had approximately 600 students.  They make use of volunteer tutors, and they’ve put in almost 8,000 hours of tutoring. Most students move up one level for every 60 to 100 hours of instruction.  Their request is for $7,500 to be used for testing materials and staff time.  They also partner with the Urban Outreach Center.

Maria, one of their students, spoke about how the Kenosha Literacy Council has “helped her to become proud of herself.”

Kennedy said that he was impressed with the diversification of their funding.  “I see that you are only asking for 5% of your total funds as CDBG funds.  I like the fact that you’re leveraging our money to get other money.”

All of the organizations requesting funds were asked to return on Wednesday, September 19th, at 6:45 pm, for the allocation meeting.


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