delgazette.com

Local entities seek Block Grant funding

By Dustin Ensinger densinger@civitasmedia.com

April 20, 2014

A handful of Delaware County entities hope that a federal grant program can propel their proposed projects forward.


Shawnee Hills, the Village of Galena, the Ashley Village Senior Center and Delaware STEP are seeking to tap into the Community Development Block Grant fund.


The federal program is designed to help low- to moderate-income areas, and this year Delaware County has $194,000 available to it through the community allocation portion of the program, according to Economic Development Director Gus Comstock.


Because of its affluence, Delaware County does not receive nearly as much money through the program as other counties around the state.


“The formula allocation program that we get every year is a formula that is based on the poverty level in the community,” Comstock said. “That doesn’t help us in getting grants that benefit low- to moderate-income people.”


Delaware STEP, a United Way of Delaware County program, is seeking funding to help alleviate the burden on low-income county residents caused by increases in the Delaware Area Transit Agency’s fares.


“One of the solutions to poverty in Delaware County is employment,” said Sidney Shars. “Affordable and reliable transportation plays a key role in achieving that solution.”


After taking advantage of the program to move its municipal building into a former church, the Village of Galena hopes to again tap into the program, this time to add more Americans with Disabilities Act compliant restrooms in the building.


Shawnee Hills hopes to use some of the funding to make improvements to a playground.


The Ashley Villa Senior Center is asking for funding to purchase backup generators. Jim Nutter, a board member at the center, said with the generators the facility could be used as a public shelter in case of an emergency.


In addition to the community allocation program, Comstock said the county plans to team with the City of Delaware to apply for community housing improvement funds. If they apply separately, the county is eligible for $400,000 and the city for $350,000. However, if they jointly apply, the can receive a maximum of $850,000.