Community development funds to be distributed

Local community leaders gathered to thank the town last week for its 2013 allocation of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to a number of local organizations benefiting low and moderate-income residents, while also hoping for just a little bit more.

The CDBG grants, which come from federal money, provide the town with the opportunity to carry out a wide range of community development activities to improve community facilities and services. The town has a Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC) comprised of town officials, board members and various community agencies, to recommend how the money should be allocated. The recommendations are then presented to the first selectman for the final decision of where the money is given. The only requirement is that 70% of the funding be dedicated to organizations that benefit low and moderate-income residents.

The purpose of last week’s CDBG public hearing, which was led by First Selectman Peter Tesei, Vice Chair of the CDAC Chris Von Keyserling, and Community Development Administrator Princess Erfe, was to allow organizations a chance to request more funding than was recommended by the advisory committee.

Mr. Tesei explained that his role in the process was regulatory and that in the past he has made few changes to the amount of funds recommended to each organization by the CDAC. Nevertheless, Mr. Tesei said he was willing to listen to those who believed they needed further monetary assistance.

“I put much weight in this committee,” he said. “But at the same time I recognize the value of this part of the process and the opportunity for people to make their statement, so please know that my mind is open and my ears are open and I will listen to whatever anyone has to say here.”

The majority of those at the hearing, however, attended simply to show their gratitude for the funding recommended for their respective organizations.

The exception was Betty McCree of CTE Inc., a Stamford-based wealth and asset development center serving Stamford, Darien and Greenwich residents. Although CTE requested $12,658 in CDBG funds for 2013, the CDAC recommended that the agency not receive funds for the upcoming year.

Ms. McCree requested that Mr. Tesei reconsider this recommendation in light of the assistance CTE provides for the community. The organization’s finance education program is vital to preventing further poverty, Ms. McCree explained.

“If a family is not practicing budgeting their money they’re going to be greatly impacted,” she said. CTE teaches families how to manage their finances, eventually resulting in greater self-sufficiency and less dependence on outside services, she added.

According to Mr. Von Keyserling, however, when CDAC members were deliberating how to allocate the grants, they did not have enough basic information regarding CTE to make a financial recommendation for the organization. Since Ms. McCree was ill and could not attend the CDAC’s public hearing regarding how to distribute funds, “The committee was working under a handicap” because they were not briefed on the organization’s services, Mr. Von Keyserling explained.

Accordingly, Mr. Tesei agreed to reconsider granting CDBG funds to CTE before submitting his final allocation recommendations in early fall.

The remainder of the hearing was a celebration of sorts.

Ann Rogers of Friends of Laurel House Inc., a provider of resources and opportunities for the mentally ill, thanked CDAC and the town for providing the organization with funding that will allow for HVAC replacement at its facility.

“Most of the state and federal funding that many of our agencies have are strictly for services so there would be no other source for us to get capitol improvement of this nature and we really depended on it,” Ms. Rogers explained.

Representatives from Meals on Wheels, Inspirica, Community Centers, YWCA’s Domestic Abuse Services, Family Centers, Community Health Center and Abilis had similar sentiments and thanked CDAC profusely for its CDBG recommendations.

Mr. Von Keyserling admitted that making CDBG recommendations this year was no easy task.

Funding requests totaled four times the budget, he said, but CDAC nevertheless attempted to give each agency one-third of what they requested rather than one-fourth.

“We tried to make the money go as far as we could,” he explained.

Mr. Tesei agreed, and complimented CDAC’s recommendations, noting that “the pie is getting smaller and smaller” each year.

In conclusion, Mr. Tesei commended the local organizations for their hard work and said “people who can step forward to help fund these agencies should.”

[email protected]

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress