NORTH ADAMS -- The city's Human Services Commission is poised to open its grant application program for local health and human services organizations for the first time in two years.
The commission will award five grants totaling $50,000 to organizations working to improve the self-sufficiency of low-income city residents. The funds were part of a $900,000 federal Community De velopment Block Grant awarded to the city in June.
"It's been quite a while since the city was able to provide the grant funding through its Community Development Block Grant," Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said Monday. "The last time the city was able to award grants through the Human Services Commission [in 2010], we weren't working with the same type of money because it was coming out of the city budget. Because of the way the budget has been over the last few years, we wrote the grant funding out of the budget."
He said the city's Economic Development Advisory Board members were instrumental in pushing for the allocation of CDBG funds for the Human Services Commission in the current round of grant funding.
"We actually started out with $20,000 for the grants, but a few items we submitted weren't accepted as part of our application, so we reallocated those funds," the mayor said. "It's something we hope to have continue as part of our application for the next few years to come."
Community Development Direc tor Michael Nuvallie said the last
"Primarily bigger projects like the armory and the skating rink have taken precedence over the last few years," he said. "The city was also very aggressive in the 1990s with major infrastructure repairs, and it has been very aggressive in recent years doing demolition work. With the skating rink and armory project winding down, we thought it was a good time to return to [allocating funds for human services grants], even if it is in a modest amount."
Human Services Commission Chairwoman Suzy Helme said that while funding has not been available during the last few budget cycles, the commission has continued to "realize the need to support and sustain" the efforts of community organizations during challenging economic times.
"With the funding available, we hope to offer some much needed support for the growth of successful programs and the development and implementation of new ones," she said in a release.
Alcombright said that while the CDBG funds limit the commission to awarding only five grants, it doesn't necessarily mean each grant will be in the amount of $10,000.
"It will depend on what organizations apply and for the amount of funding requested," he said. "We will be able to give out five awards that are significantly larger -- about 10 times bigger -- than we were able to in the past. What's great about this process is that because the funding comes from the Community Development Block Grant, it comes with no cost to the taxpayer in our local budget."
The mayor added, "What's also exciting about these awards is that our social service agencies and other nonprofits have seen dramatic cuts in funding over the past few fiscal cycles and these moneys will go a long way in helping those agencies help our residents."
Applications will be released by the city's Office of Com munity Development in the coming weeks.
For more information, contact Nuvallie at 413-662-3025, or email email@example.com.