Leaders and representatives from dozens of New Haven’s service and support providers waited in line at City Hall on Wednesday to vie for federal funding from the city as the Elm City faces an increasingly tight budget.
Each year, the city receives earmarked money from the federal government. On April 15, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development informed New Haven that the federal government would provide slightly higher levels of support than Mayor Toni Harp anticipated, leaving excess funding open for further allocation. On Wednesday, various organizations pitched their funding requests to the Board of Alder’s Joint Community Development and Human Services Committee. The Committee will make its decisions next week.
“This is really, really significant work you’re doing,” Ward 4 Alder Evelyn Rodriguez told a group asking for money to raise awareness and provide resources on sickle cell disease. “We want the community to understand that.”
The Elm City has struggled financially in the face of rising costs and limited sources of revenue, but external sources of government funding are often designated for certain types of recipients. The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides grant money to the city through four major programs — the Community Development Block Grant, Home Investment Partnership, Emergency Solutions Grant and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.
This year, the finalized federal allocations for CDBG, HOME, ESG and HOPWA are $3.76 million, $1.24 million, $319,188 and $1.09 million, respectively. Both CDBG and HOME saw marginal increases from the funding levels last year, while ESG and HOPWA saw decreases. Across the four programs, total HUD funding decreased from $6.49 million to $6.41.
However, in the projections used for Harp’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year — which she submitted to the Board of Alders prior to the March 1 deadline — the mayor actually underanticipated the level of funding New Haven would receive. The difference in actual approved funding and the mayor’s calculations allows the Board of Alders to allocate a total of more than $260,000 to qualifying local organizations.
On Wednesday, representatives from a variety of service providers across the city made their pitches for the federal money. Some were longtime recipients of New Haven’s federal grant money, while others were first-time applicants. While many were praised for their contribution to the city, they also faced questioning from the committee’s Alders.
Organizations ranged in mission and size. Prominent local nonprofits, such as Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services — which provides services for refugees and immigrants — asked for money to continue their steady provision of services and potentially expand the population they serve.
Others made appeals to stay afloat. For example, Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic requested $12,000 from the city, $1,000 more than Harp’s proposal allocated to the organization. The clinic, which was established over a century ago, works with two New Haven schools to provide behavioral health services. But, over the years, funding across other sources has dried up, as the city and state both have struggled to come up with the funding to keep the clinic’s baseline operations afloat.
“Our funding has been cut tremendously,” Brittani Cogdell, a program manager at Clifford Beers told the committee. “We’re looking for additional funding to make [existing services] possible.”
Some organizations, like the New Haven Ecology Project, were looking to sustain rapid growth and provide specific services.
The New Haven Ecology Project partners with 22 public schools in New Haven and have increased their programs substantially in the last three years. Specifically, the number of schools with one-day, whole-school programs run by the Project increased from one to 18.
“We need to deepen the work that we do with existing schools,” Suzannah Holsenbeck, who oversees the Project’s Schoolyard Program told the Alders. “We are getting 5,000 New Haven Public School students outside.”
The committee will next meet on May 7 to deliberate on funding allocation.
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