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Township Council Begins 2016 CDBG Award Deliberations

Township officials are reviewing more than $200,000 in requests for Community Development Block Grants, but the program’s administrator warned that some of the requests will not be filled.

The township’s 2016 CDBG figure has not yet been arrived at, program administrator Deborah Mitchell told the Township Council at its March 22 meeting, but requests in one category exceed what the township will probably be able to award.

Requests come in two categories: Public Service and Public Facilities. The money must be used to directly benefit low- and moderate-income families, or to benefit an area where the majority of residents are low- and moderate-income families, Mitchell said.

Federal regulations limit the amount that can be awarded in the Public Service category to 15 percent of a community’s total allocation. In 2015, the township received $254,835 in CDBG money, which means if the 2016 figure is similar, the township will be able to allocate about $38,000 for those projects.

Applications for 2016 public service grants totaled $80,095. Applications for the Public Facilities category totaled $129,370.

There is no limit for how much of the overall grant can be allocated to public facilities’ grants, but Mitchell pointed out that the council in the past has allocated most of that for housing rehabilitation projects to meet the township’s obligation to provide for low- and moderate-income housing.

In all, the township received 12 applications for CDBG money. Those applying for the grant include:

  • Family and Community Services’ Franklin Youth Prevention and Empowerment Program to provide a part-time counselor for 44 youths, providing services in life skills, homework assistance, computer and job seeking skills training: $7,565.
  • Center for Great Expectations Katy’s Place to provide staffing for daycare for homeless children of teen mothers: $20,000.
  • Franklin Township Department of Recreation Boys Council and Girls Circle Programs to provide mentoring programs for Franklin Township middle school age youths-40 students: $15,000.
  • Franklin Township Department of Recreation Summer Camp to provide summer activities for Franklin Township youths at Williams Park: $15,000.
  • Central Jersey Housing Resource Center, to provide housing counseling services for 300 low- and moderate-income families and individuals who live or work in Franklin Township: $13,030.
  • Franklin Township Food Bank Community Garden, to provide fresh produce for improved diets providing 30 pounds of produce serving 40 families for 16 weeks: $2,000.
  • Homesharing Inc.’s Homeless match program, to provide staffing assistance in matching homeless individuals with homeowners willing to share homes. To serve 250 Franklin Township residents: $7,500.

In the public facilities category the township received applications from:

  • The Sisters Network’s roofing project, which represents phase two of an on-going renovation. Replaces the roof over the main structure. This organization serves low- and moderate-income breast cancer survivors: $30,250.
  • Franklin Township Baseball League requested funds to renovate its clubhouse, which includes building an addition to clubhouse 2nd floor meeting space and expansion of kitchen facilities: $55,000.
  • Franklin Township Food Bank requested funds for the installation of energy efficient lighting throughout the foodbank to reduce energy costs: $17,120.
  • Somerset County Community Action Program requested money for renovations to its basement for administrative offices and community lab. It will allow program expansion for 30 more children currently serving 45: $20,000.
  • Franklin Township Environmental Commission’s Common Ground Community Garden at Pine Grove,  reinforce fencing to prevent rodents and install irrigation system: $7,000.

Representatives from some of the organizations requesting money showed up at the March 22 council meeting to plead their cases.

Sharon M. Clark, executive director of the Raritan-based Central Jersey Housing Resource Center, acknowledged that the $13,000 requested was twice what the center normally asks for, and noted that the center is also going to corporations for financial support.

“We are very thankful for your past support,” she said.

Frank Hasner, executive director of the Franklin Food Bank, said the $2,000 he’s asking for would go to buy irrigation supplies and fertilizer for the food bank’s community garden. The food bank’s $17,000 public facility grant request is earmarked for new lighting, which, he said, would save the food bank on electricity costs.

The applications will be vetted through the council’s Finance Committee and be put up for a public hearing before the final awards are announced, Mitchell said.

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