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Council splits CDBG pie equally

June 25th, 2013

Annually, the City of Newburgh struggles to find an equitable method of disbursing Community Development Block Grants to organizations that serve the city’s youth.

Youth from a number of organizations funded partially by City of Newburgh Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) pack the City Council Chambers last week during a CDBG public hearing. A dozen programs received grants, but were likely less than requested.��

Youth from a number of organizations funded partially by City of Newburgh Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) pack the City Council Chambers last week during a CDBG public hearing. A dozen programs received grants, but were likely less than requested.��

Annually, many of these organizations come away from the experience under-funded, and in some cases empty-handed. The City has also found itself reprimanded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for what HUD alleged was improper handling of the funds.

The 2013 Grant process is to support programs that further community education goals, prevent gang violence and youth criminal activities, deter youth from joining gangs and to redirect gang-involved youth from gang activities.

Efforts have been prioritized that target public services to low- to moderate-income families including literacy, education, and job training services.

This year the City Council said it wanted to avoid the problems of the past. In order to achieve this goal, the council appointed a committee to analyze the needs and qualifications of the organizations receiving CDBG funds.

The committee was comprised of Barbara Smith, Cindy Holmes, Roxie Royal and Tammie Hollins, who devised an evaluation system they believed would keep the needs of the low-income population of the City of Newburgh first while focusing on the unmet needs of those residents.

Special attention was given to the organizations offering fresh and new programs, Smith said.

Members of the committee separately weighed what they believed the organizations could offer the city’s most needy through their programs. Those recommendations were then passed on to the City Council.

Courtney Kain, acting director of the City’s CDBG program, explained that the committee recommended $50,000 of $73,000 available be used for youth programs with some of the program being accomplished in-house using city staff.

The committee urged the City Council to provide more funding to the top three or four programs instead of spreading the $50,000 across all of the applicants. In the end, the council took a less controversial route, granting $5,000 to each of a dozen applicants.

They are:

SUNY Orange, $5,000, for a STEPS Program: Students Taking an Effective Path to Success, which addresses improving educational outcomes for 15 young people;

Newburgh Armory Unity Center, $5,000, for a Summer Weekend Program, which includes reading, gardening and sports (evening basketball and workshops);

Ebenezer Baptist Church, $5,000, for the Hook Elite Boxing Club that funds a boxing program including mentoring at-risk youth;

Nora Cronin, $5,000, for Graduate Support Program that funds a middle school graduate mentor program to assist students transitioning into high school;

Literacy Orange, $5,000, for an Afterschool Reading Program, a financial literacy program and family literacy development for 16 7th, 8th and 9th-graders;

YMCA, $5,000, for a Leaders Club that provides leadership training, personal growth and development to Newburgh Youth providing teens with role models;

Northeast Gateway to Freedom, $5,000, for a Kidz Initiative providing an after-school dinner and Life Center, a summer initiative that funds weekly field trips;

Newburgh Zion Lions, $5,000, for a summer basketball league;

O.C. Hoops, $5,000, the Rock Roundball Classic: Grass Roos summer basketball program at the Armory;

Youth Empowerment Program, $5,000, Funding to support mentoring and life skills, educational support and literacy programs;

Holy Trinity, $5,000 for a 2-week, 9-sport summer Olympics;

Big Brothers Big Sisters, $5,000 for a mentoring program expanding their impact on the Newburgh community.

The remaining $13,000 will be spent on an in-house, staff-managed program.

Following the council’s unanimous vote to divide the money equally, Barbara Smith asked the council why they had appointed a committee to make recommendations for a better method of city involvement.

“Why did you bother if you didn’t intend to listen to our recommendations?”

In the end, the City Council deemed it wiser to give a little to everyone rather than listen to the cries of many.

By ALLAN GAUL
agaul@tcnewspapers.com

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