2014-04-24 / Around Town

Community Development Block

By Jonathan Clancy

Middletown can apply for $250,000 in federal funding this year through the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG). Local non-profit organizations have already expressed interest in the grants, which come through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Overall, Rhode Island has received about $5 million in CDBG funding. The money is intended to support housing, economic development, and neighborhood revitalization activities that benefit low- to moderate-income persons or programs, mostly non-profits. Municipalities annually apply for funding through the program.

Town Planner Ron Wolanski told the Town Council during a regular Middletown Town Council meeting on Monday, April 21, that the town has actually received between $80,000 and $90,000 in past years.

Christian Belden, senior project manager at Church Community Housing Corporation (CCHC), which helps Newport County communities with their applications, said organizations have already shown interest in applying for grants. The council meeting was the first of two public meetings to notify residents and interested groups of the process.

Susan Schenck of East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) said the organization seeks a $10,000 grant for the year as part of Middletown’s CDBG application. The organization provides numerous low-cost health and human services to Rhode Island’s East Bay area. Schenck said that the money would help support the operating expenses of EBCAP’s community dental program, which serves low-income patients who are usually uninsured.

Schenck said patients pay on a sliding scale, which is only a portion of the cost, and that several hundred of them are from Middletown. She added that EBCAP will seek similar $10,000 grants from Portsmouth and Newport, and $5,000 from Jamestown. She said each of these communities have residents using the dental program.

Ira Markman of Lucy’s Hearth, a Newport County shelter for homeless women and their children, told the council that the organization would seek $20,000. Markman said that last year the organization helped 45 women and 83 children get off the streets and into better situations. The organization’s programs include emergency shelter, transitional housing, support, outreach, and aftercare.

Other groups seeking CDBG grants should contact CCHC for information about how to apply. The council will conduct a second public hearing on the topic May 19 at Middletown Town Hall during its regular meeting.

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