7 nonprofits recommended for block grants

WARREN — City Council is expected to begin discussions about funding seven nonprofit organizations in the 2018 Community Development Black Grant program even as the CD department is facing changes that are affecting its ability to service the grants.

About a dozen community organizations applied to receive money from the 44-year-old grant from Housing and Urban Development, which is down from the number that applied for the 2017 grant. A citizens committee selected the seven programs recommended to receive the grant.

Nonprofits being recommended to receive next year’s grants include Christy House Emergency Shelter, Trumbull Community Action Program, Community Volunteer Council, Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, Inspiring Minds Enrichment Program, Mahoning Valley College Access Program and SCOPE. The seven nonprofits were recommended to receive $67,000 by Community Development’s volunteer review committee.

The committee also recommended that Fair Housing receive $8,000.

The vote on the 44th annual Housing and Urban Development grant application is scheduled for Wednesday unless council members have questions about its use.

There were originally 23 organizations recommended to receive a portion of the approximately $100,000 available for nonprofits in 2017.

“I’m expecting to receive less money in 2018 than we did this year, based on President (Donald) Trump’s recommending the money be zeroed out in next year’s budget and the U.S. House of Representative recommending $100 million less in 2018 budget,” Community Development Director Michael Keys said. “We do not know what the Senate’s recommendations will be.”

While he said he’s confident the House and Senate will not go along with the zeroing out the grant program’s budget, Keys said it is hard to estimate how deep cuts will be in next year’s budget.

Because Keys told the administration he could not continue to operate without subsidies from the city, it was decided to reduce the size of his department by one person. The department’s five-person staff, including Keys, will be reduced to four persons beginning Oct. 2. One of its members, program Director Erica Davis, is being transferred to the city’s water department, according to city Auditor Vince Flask.

Because of the expected reduction, Keys has said the office will not be able to continue administering the nonprofit programs at the level it had in the past.

Even with the staff cuts, Keys still expects his department to require additional subsidies from the general fund or other source.

“It is hard to know the exact subsidy amount because we do not know how much we will receive every year,” Keys said.

Community Development for the first time in 2016 was able to charge the city’s enterprise departments for services it provided to them. The department spent $45,314 it earned in enterprise funds in 2016.

Flask said the reduction of an employee for the last three months of the year should reduce the amount of subsidy the department requires this year.

“We have been talking to the city’s human resources department and the unions to determine how moving her responsibilities to other employees will affect their jobs,” Keys said.