Community development funds shrink in Portland

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PORTLAND — The city’s annual federal funding allocations for social service programs and community development projects is reaching fewer agencies this year, as the city absorbs an estimated 16 percent cut.

Only a handful of social service agency representatives spoke at a public hearing Monday, a stark contrast from years past when hearings drew hundreds of people and lasted several hours. The change could be the result of the city’s effort to make the Community Development Block Grant application process and funding decisions more equitable by using a scoring system.

The city expects to distribute a little more than $2 million this year as part of its CDBG funding.

For 2011-2012 funding, the CDBG Allocations Committee recommended 13 programs for funding in the social services category. Four of those programs are run by Preble Street and include shelters and food programs, totalling $148,000; two are Peoples Regional Opportunity Program programs, funded at $21,690 and $30,000; two are city programs for behavioral health ($119,000) and emergency assistance ($34,000); and $150,000 for community policing.

Amistad, Southern Maine Agency on Aging and Milestones Foundation are also recommended for funding.

Of the programs not recommended, Catherine Morrill Day Nursery did not get funding for its child-care program, along with the Children’s Co-Op Preschool Center.

Allocations Committee Chairwoman Annette Rogers said day-care providers do not fit the current formula used to decide which social services programs are funded.

St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen, Wayside Food Programs, Learning Works and Frannie Peabody Center also are not recommended for funding.

Patti Capouch, executive director of Frannie Peabody, said this is the first time the agency, which helps people living with AIDS and HIV, has not been funded since she began working there in 2004.

“This is potentially devastating,” Capouch said. The agency asked for $40,000 in funding.

Of the seven development projects recommended for funding, five are city projects. The Boys and Girls Club is recommended for $95,000 for a clubhouse at Riverton; Catherine Morrill is recommended for $53,740 for window and entrance restoration.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the recommendations May 9 after another public hearing.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net Follow her on Twitter: @katebucklin.

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