by Lee V. Gaines, Pioneer Press
Skokie officials are considering how to allocate an estimated $500,000 in federal grant funding to proposed village projects and local non-profits serving village residents.
The village expects to receive the money from the Community Development Block Grant program this year, Skokie officials said.
The CDBG program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and funds are allocated on an annual basis to communities across the country, including Skokie, with the aim of providing housing and economic opportunities to primarily low and moderate-income individuals, according to details of the program on the HUD website.
The village hosted the second of three public hearings on CDBG funding Jan. 3. Officials heard proposals from village staff seeking funding for village-related projects and from 15 different nonprofits looking for financial support for both programming and capital projects. In total, the proposals sought nearly $610,000 in funding – over 20 percent more than the amount of money expected to be available for distribution.
Staff will recommend funding allocations at the third and final public hearing scheduled for Feb. 6, according to village documents.
Skokie officials don’t yet know how much federal grant money the village will actually receive, said Carrie Haberstich, a planner for the village and Skokie’s CDBG administrator.
The village received about $517,000 in CDBG funds last year and expected only to receive about $450,000, she said. She told officials at last week’s public hearing that the village has nearly $40,000 in surplus funding from the prior year that can be used to fund proposals this year.
Officials expect to know the actual amount of CDBG funds Skokie will receive this year sometime in the spring, Haberstich said.
Village departments requested a total of $378,000 in CDBG funds, according to village documents. The requested funds would be used to cover costs associated with Skokie’s home improvement program — which offers grants to low income households for repairs to single-family homes. Also, the money could pay for costs associated with some street and alley resurfacing and the village’s sidewalk replacement program. CDBG funds could also go toward administrative expenses associated with administering the program, itself.
The village’s Human Services Division requested approximately $43,000 to cover 60 percent of the cost of a village social worker.,
The majority of the requests from nonprofit leaders sought founding for costs associated with services and programming, others requested money to offset capital costs.
The largest request came from Shore Community Services, a Skokie-based organization that provides services for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. The agency asked for nearly $41,000 to replace a heating and air conditioning unit at the organization’s Laramie Avenue headquarters, according to village documents. The new HVAC system would provide a more comfortable and safe environment for nearly 90 adults living on the ground floor of the building, Shore Community Services leaders said.
PEER Services, which provides substance abuse prevention and treatment to young adults and teens, was among the nonprofits that had requested CDBG money last year.
PEER Services requested $12,000 to help pay a counselor to provide outreach, assessment and treatment services to Skokie teens, families and adults struggling with substance abuse. North Shore Senior Center asked for $10,000 to cover the costs associated with providing long-term case management for older, low-income adults in Skokie. And The Harbour requested nearly $11,000 to help pay for programming aimed at assisting homeless youth in their transition to self-sufficiency, village records show.
Asian Human Services, a social service agency focused on Asian immigrants with offices in Skokie and Chicago, requested $15,000 in CDBG funding to subsidize the salaries of dental assistants who provide care to low-income Skokie residents. According to village documents, the agency did not receive CDBG funds from Skokie last year. Open Communities, a Winnetka-based non-profit that provides advocates for and services related to affordable housing in the north suburbs, requested $10,000 to provide landlord-tenant liaison services to Skokie residents. The agency also did not receive CDBG funds from the village last year.
Because the amount requested exceeds what the village anticipates receiving in CDBG funds, Haberstich said the agencies likely won’t see all the funding they’ve asked for. Additionally, she said, federal rules dictate that only 15 percent of CDBG funds can be used to pay for non-capital related services and only 20 percent can be used for costs associated with administering the CDBG grogram.
Mayor George Van Dusen said the village would do what it could to fund the requests.
“The most vulnerable among us are the ones who come to you and are in great need of your assistance,” he said. “We will do everything we can within the guidelines of (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) to meet your needs and your requests.”