Community services

City Council Approves Community Services Grant Application

NEWPORT – The city could receive more than half a million in federal grants to fund certain community services in the near future, now that the city council has voted to send its annual Community Development Block Grant application to the state for approval. .

The Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development is responsible for administering federally funded Community Development Block Grants to municipalities through a competitive application process. These grants are designed to fund community resources for low-to-moderate income residents and the City of Newport has participated annually for the past 44 years.

This year’s application requests the use of these grants to fund electrical infrastructure and lighting updates for the Edward King House Seniors Center, operations support for the McKinney Cooperative Shelter, program operations support East Bay Community Action Program Dental and Church Community Housing Support. Society’s Residential Lead Reduction Program. The nonprofits will act as subrecipients of the grant, if the city’s funding request is approved.

City Council approved the request at its Wednesday meeting by a 6-1 vote, with Councilwoman Kate Leonard opposing it.

The first public hearing for this year’s application took place at the February 2 Planning Board meeting, where CCH representative Rain Daughtery provided an overview of the programs that applied for funding and the application process. in its entirety. CCHC has worked as an administrator for the city’s CDBG app for the past seven years. Daughtery explained that the organization reached out to nonprofits that had applied for grants in the past to compile the list of proposals.

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Although no member of the public spoke on the matter during the second public hearing at Wednesday’s council meeting, a few members of council had their questions addressed by Director of Public Services William Riccio and Rep. of CCHC Christian Belden.

Leonard’s opposing vote came after she introduced a motion to vote on each funding element of the request individually, which was dropped without a second. She said she supports the dental program, lead reduction program and renovations to the Edward King House, but could not support using the grant money to fund McKinney’s operations. Shelter, as she had been told, homeless people living in Providence and other towns around Rhode Island were coming to Newport to become a McKinney Shelter client, and she wanted to make sure those funds were used for Newport residents.

In response, Belden said the shelter is unable to track where its clients were prior to the shelter because homeless clients do not have a residence to list as their place of origin. Leonard also raised concerns about whether CCHC adding CCHC-led programs on the application counts as a conflict of interest. In addition to the lead reduction program CCHC runs in partnership with the city, CCHC operates the Edward King House and has had past ties with the Washington Square Services Corporation, which operates the McKinney Shelter.

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Belden said adding these programs to the request is not a conflict of interest since the funds do not directly benefit CCHC, but rather go to specific projects in the request.

Leonard and Councilor Jamie Bova also had questions about specific planned electrical and lighting renovations to Edward King House, with Leonard wanting to know if the fixtures would still align with the building’s agreement to stay close to the building. historical accuracy and Bova wanting to know the projected cost savings in updating the electrical system. Belden and Riccio said the project didn’t have that level of detail yet because the band hadn’t secured funding for it.

Councilor Angela McCalla, Councilor Lynn Underwood Ceglie and Bova expressed support for the four elements of the application following questions from Leonard. McCalla notably argued for the importance of funding lead reduction housing before the group is called to vote.