Anniston Community Development Department taking nonprofit applications for funding
by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
May 07, 2012 | 3160 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Budget season is looming and some early preparations are beginning. In Anniston, the Community Development Department is taking applications for Community Development Block Grant funding.

The funding, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, allows the city to give up to 15 percent of its annual block grant to local nonprofit agencies that serve low- to moderate-income Anniston residents, said Frank Holmes, partner in Development Solutions, LLC, which manages the grant for the city.

But the amount the city is funding has been going down.

“By federal regulation, the maximum amount of CDBG allocation issued you can spend for public service agencies is set at no more than 15 percent of your budget,” Holmes said. “If we do the maximum every year, which Anniston has tried to do, it’s still a reduced number.”

Last year, Anniston was able to allocate $89,791 to local nonprofits. This year, after receiving an $85,000 reduction in the federal funding, it has just $77,267.70 to award.

It is a dwindling stream of funding for agencies that rely on the money, including Anniston Soup Bowl, Community Enabler Developer and Interfaith Ministries.

Susan Shipman, executive director at women's shelter Second Chance, said the city awarded her agency $8,000 last year --- an increase for the shelter. The money helped pay for a second case manager to work at the shelter.

“Regardless of what we asked for, we got just blanket $4,000,” Shipman said of previous allocations. “This past year … they gave larger dollars to fewer organizations.”

Second Chance requested $5,125, about 25 percent of the salary of a case manager, Shipman said. The larger award was appreciated, she added, and it helped expand the number of people the organization could reach. Second Chance serves an average of 120 women and 60 to 80 children a year. Some of that is over weekends.

“For the victims that come through for only a few days, we just need to make certain that we can always get to them, and it’s not necessarily going to be a Monday through Friday thing,” Shipman said. “If we have one of our case managers working over the weekend, we know that she’ll have the opportunity to at least give that victim, work with her to create a safety plan before she leaves the shelter.”

Second Chance already has its application filled out and ready to submit for the coming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, Shipman said.

“It’ll go in to the city on Monday,” she said.

But Holmes noted just because organizations have been funded in the past doesn’t mean they’ll be funded again or at the previous level they were funded. The agencies have to apply every year, and they have to prove they’ve spent the money in a way to support their stated goals.

“It’s not good enough to say, ‘We’re going to help the poor,’” Holmes said. “They have to send us a progress report that shows how many people they’ve served, and there are various other things we ask for on there.”

The agencies are evaluated based on the success in achieving the goals in the original recipient agreement.

In addition, the money can only be awarded for new or expanded services or to maintain a service that received the funding before.

The agencies have to meet the requirements for funding, being a nonprofit, serving low- to moderate- income Anniston residents. They also have to provide documentation of their other sources of funding, including the percentage of board members who contribute, the associations to which the nonprofits belong and their work with other service agencies.

All of the information is designed to make sure the funding awarded by the block grant is used efficiently and effectively, Holmes said.

The department will be accepting applications beginning today through noon May 21. Copies of the application can be accessed online at www.annistonal.gov under Community Development Department or at City Hall.

Star Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @Lcamper_star.

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