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Competition for grants heats up

Service groups, city programs vie for federal dollars

Oct. 18, 2011

If it weren't for Hart Park Senior Center, many older adults would find themselves isolated and see a decline in their mental and physical health.

"It gives people a place to belong," said Michael Price, president of the center's advisory board, getting choked up. "People leave lunch on Friday and say they won't talk to anyone until Monday. It's sad, but it's true."

Between hot lunches and program attendance, the senior center tracked 27,000 visits last year. To continue providing the same level of programs and service, the senior center is seeking $117,500 in Community Development Block Grant funds.

For every $1,000 grant dollars reduced, the center loses 100 visits due to cuts in programming, center Director Mary Noel Johnson said.

Few people in the community could dispute the benefits the center has for the senior population. Unfortunately, the same could be said about the more than a dozen local food pantries, senior-living facilities and service organizations and agencies seeking CDBG money for 2012.

The city is fielding requests totaling about $2 million for the next year. Many of the groups looking for financial assistance spoke at a public hearing before the city's Community Development Block Grant Committee on Monday.

In 2011, Wauwatosa received about $1.1 million in block grants from the federal government, and it's likely that the same or fewer dollars will be allocated in 2012, city planner Jennifer Ferguson said.

ARC of Greater Milwaukee wants money so it can provide training for people with developmental disabilities to live and work independently. The group assists 4,500 people per year and is seeking a grant of $25,000, Executive Director Vicki Spataro Wachniak said.

Each year, Elena's House provides housing and services to 60 people living with HIV and AIDS. A $15,000 donation will help continue those services.

Greater Tosa Interfaith helps the elderly stay in their homes longer by providing nearly 800 rides to medical appointments, helping with shopping for groceries 700 times and performing 253 home repairs or chores. Interfaith wants $20,000.

Most years, the service groups look for other grants, donations and sponsorships to supplement the block grant dollars. This time the same message was heard often, donations are significantly down and the demand continues to increase.

Mary Ann Hamill, president of Wauwatosa Community Food Pantry, said 365 families are now registered for food assistance.

"Some of these clients' visits to the pantry are becoming more frequent," she said.

Meanwhile, the cash donations used to help buy food in bulk has dropped by 25 percent.

The federal government stipulates that only a certain percentage of the CDBG funds can go to public services. Money must also be allocated for public facilities and administration costs.

At the Greek Orthodox Manor, improvements to the elevator, intercom system and parking lot are needed. A lunchroom could be converted to classroom space for training at Badger Association of the Blind, and the Lutheran Home is under mandate by the city Fire Department to improve four of its elevators so they can be used for firefighting, rescue or evacuation purposes and to put sprinklers in additional areas of the facility.

With changes to the federal budget, Lutheran Home will begin receiving less reimbursement for Medicare/Medicaid for rehabilitation services a year earlier than anticipated, Laura Krieger said. While the Lutheran Home Foundation has raised significant dollars, getting people to earmark those dollars for facility repairs proves difficult.

"Our donors don't find giving money to fix an elevator very attractive," she said. "People want their donations to directly impact patient care."

Reason2011 funding2012 requested funding
Administrationpays for city staff salary and supplies for administering the CDBG program, also will pay for a bike and pedestrian plan for the city$41,750$151,750
Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing CouncilThe federal government requires money be contributed to eliminate unfair and illegal housing discrimination.$27,555$33,000
Hart Park Senior Centerprovides programs and services for local seniors$104,000$117,500
ARC of Milwaukeehelps people with developmental disabilities achieve independence$17,750$25,000
Elena's Houseprovides housing for people with HIV/AIDS$12,230$15,000
Greater Tosa Interfaithassists seniors with errands and chores so they can remain in their homes$16,300$20,000
Tosa Community Food Pantryprovides food to people in Tosa ZIP Codes$3,275$4,000
PEP Programsenior meal and social program at Wauwatosa United Methodist Church$5,300$6,500
Tosa CaresProvides food, hygiene supplies and clothing to people in need$4,075$8,000
Tosa storm sewers replace storm sewers on Park Drive from Center to Locust streetsNA$112,560
Tosa sanitary sewersreplace sanitary sewers on Park Drive from Center to Locust streets$117,850$214,200
Tosa watermainsreplace watermains on Park Drive from Center Street to Hadley$140,000$182,000
Greek Orthodox Manorimprovements to housing for seniors and people with disabilities$239,875$120,517
Badger Association of the Blindimprovements to facility that provides training and services for the visually impaired$16,000$20,000
Lutheran Homeimprovements to facility that offers a nursing home, rehabilitation and day care facility for seniors$50,000$300,000
Tosa Economic Development Departmentgives grants to businesses looking to renovatr, expand or acquire property in return for creating jobs$227,648$400,000
Health Departmentgrant money for homeowners replacing/weatherizing lead-based painted windows and doorsNA$30,000
Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukeeprovides home repairs/accessibility modifications so seniors and people with disabilities can stay in their homesNA$150,000

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