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Published: Saturday, 4/27/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Area agencies face funding cuts

Sequester has groups worried city council will slash allocation

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lourdes Santiago is the director of Toledo's Department of Neighborhoods. Lourdes Santiago is the director of Toledo's Department of Neighborhoods.
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Some Toledo homeless shelters, public service agencies, and two of the city’s largest community development corporations face funding cuts this year, city records show.

Officials are expecting a minimum 5 percent decrease in the federal Emergency Solutions Grant that is funneled to homeless shelters through the city's neighborhoods department.

Toledo's federal Community Development Block Grant allocation last year was $6.83 million while the Emergency Solutions Grant was $610,343. A HOME Investments Partnerships Program grant money, which is used to provide low and moderate-income housing, money to fix homes, down payments, and rent assistance, was $1.68 million last year.

The federal grants have decreased in recent years, causing consternation among the agencies the city selects to get that money. Automatic government spending cuts this year called sequestration are expected to reduce the money this year again, said Lourdes Santiago, Toledo's Neighborhoods Department director.

“There is always a fight over these dollars,” Ms. Santiago said.

Recommendations from committees set up to review the CDCs and the homeless shelters have left some worried Toledo City Council could slash their funding.

The community development corporation United North Inc., which late last year proposed turning the former St. Hedwig School in North Toledo’s Polish Village into 41 apartments for low-income seniors, was dismayed to have that project cut out of recommendations for the CDBG allocation.

“They have eliminated one of our five actives, so we have gotten a 20 percent cut,” said Terry Glazer, United North executive director.

“Mayor Bell designated a project from LMHA and this project with St. Hedwig as priorities, and no one asked us any questions about the project and we heard nothing.”

United North last year got $357,900, of which $27,000 was sent to Toledo Grows to do a project at the Toledo Botanical Gardens. This year, the agency is recommended to get $270,802.

Ms. Santiago said the St. Hedwig project was cut because “it is not ready” and relies on state tax credits that have not been approved. Mr. Glazer said he expects the tax credits to be approved in July.

A five-person “Community Review Committee” reported to the city on the community development corporation funding. It also recommended cutting funding for an economic development project to help small businesses in South Toledo by NeighborWorks Toledo Region, formerly Neighborhood Housing Services.

“We expected we would receive the same funding for the same programs,” said Bill Farnsel, executive director of NeighborWorks Toledo.

Homeless shelters also are facing cutbacks to already austere budgets. Deb Conklin, executive director of the Toledo-Lucas County Homelessness Board, said she expects a 5 percent “across-the-board” cut because of sequestration.

“Even though we told them there was cap, the requests that came from shelters totaled $357,409 and we told then the cap was $265,675,” Ms. Conklin said.

Toledo City Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson said she had just received the recommendations Friday. “I expect for city council to examine them carefully and completely to be real clear about how these decisions were reached,” she said.

Final proposals for the shelters and CDCs are expected to go before City Council next month for a vote.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171, follow on twitter @ignaziomessina

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