In spite of local anxieties about budget cuts at the national level, New Haven is expected to receive roughly the same amount of federal funding for various local social services for the coming fiscal year.
On Wednesday night, the Board of Alders Joint Committee on Community Development and Human Services received the proposed 2018–19 budget from the New Haven Office of Management and Budget for the use of federal funding for community services. The anticipated allocated budget totals $6,204,208 and includes funding from four federal programs under the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Three of these programs are expected to receive an amount of funding similar to last year, but appropriations from Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS will likely receive a 3 percent cut from the federal government.
“This is going to have an impact on quality of life in New Haven,” Ward 6 Alder Dolores Colon ’91 said. “This is going to affect everyone, not just the homeless.”
Besides Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, funding comes from the Community Development Block Grant, Home Investment Partnership and the Emergency Solutions Grant. The city’s budget office opened applications for funding to local nonprofits on Oct. 11, 2017, and then created a consolidated action plan based on the need demonstrated in the received applications.
On March 6 and March 28, agencies deemed eligible for funding will have the opportunity to make their case in front of the joint committee, and, on April 3, the committee will deliberate on which changes to make to the proposed budget. The approved budget will then be open to public comment for 30 days, as required by law, before the city submits a finalized version to the federal housing department by May 15.
Out of 80 applications submitted to the city’s budget office, only four were rejected, according to Office of Management and Budget Project Coordinator Ron Gizzi. Of these agencies, two submitted incomplete applications, and two were deemed ineligible. Incomplete or duplicate applications are rejected without ability to appeal.
Regardless, several alders raised the possibility of reconsidering this rule, which could prevent agencies that provide important services to the community from receiving valuable funding. Other alders, including the two co-chairs of the joint committee — Ward 2 Alder Frank Douglass Jr. and Ward 26 Alder Darryl Brackeen Jr. — argued that such an act could set a dangerous precedent resulting in the funding of ineligible organizations. If ineligible organizations were funded, the federal government could impose ramifications on the city, Gizzi said.
The federal housing department warned the city that it could receive less funding on rental assistance for those with HIV or AIDS since the Elm City and Connecticut are combating the issue with relatively more success than other states, said Allison Champlain, an employee at the city’s budget office, during her testimony at the meeting. Champlain described the situation as a “Catch-22” in which agencies that provide support to their clients subsequently receive less funding in future years. This quandary could cause the crisis to grow in magnitude again, according to committee members.
Of the three other programs, Community Development Block Grant provides so-called “hardware” funding for projects like job creation and property development. These funds go to City Hall, agencies such as Habitat for Humanity. “Software” funding from the block grants go to agencies that provide services for constituencies like the elderly and youth, such as Junta for Progressive Action and the Boys and Girls Club of New Haven.
Meanwhile, the Emergency Solutions Grant program provides emergency shelter to the city’s homeless population and grants to organizations that help those in shelters find permanent housing. The programs also fund agencies that work to prevent homelessness by funding security deposits.
The anticipated budget for the 2018–19 fiscal year is about $150,000 higher than the previous fiscal year’s, which totaled $6,059,460.
Nathalie Bussemaker | firstname.lastname@example.org