Ithaca's Rescue Mission is frequently at capacity in its emergency shelter.

ITHACA, N.Y. — As March rolls in every year, it comes time for the city to take the state and federal grants it has been awarded, and decide how to disburse them in a way that does the most community benefit. As a result, the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA) will be holding public hearings on March 28 and April 4 as part of the process to determine who will receive money from its U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants.

The annually awarded grants are the Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Program (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). The requests are designed to help people, or specifically to fund organizations in the community that help people in the low- and moderate-income category. The highest amount of funding is requested for housing-related projects.

All summed up, there’s $1,246,789 requested, and $999,994 available, so this is something of a competition. Applicants present their projects, answer questions from IURA staff and appointed public committee members, and the proposals are weighed on factors such as the applicant’s track record, the likelihood of success, and if the project delivers the most “bang for the buck” to the Ithaca community.

This year, 17 applications were received, a substantial decrease from the 28 received last year. The intended uses for the grant dollars range from jobs training to community services to the development of affordable housing. Below is a summary of the applicants, with links to each application at the start of the entry.

The Immaculate Conception School Redevelopment by INHS.

Housing

1. 2019 Homeowner Rehab – Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) is seeking $125,000 toward its ongoing home rehabilitation program for lower-income homeowners (often seniors on fixed incomes). Examples include roofing, porch rebuilds, replacement of exterior siding, plumbing, heating and similar big-ticket expenses that are difficult to pay for with limited means. The program typically covers half a dozen major home rehabs each year.

2. Small Repair Program – Another longstanding program, INHS is requesting $32,500 to fund small emergency repairs for 40 low-income people with disabilities, seniors, single heads of households and other city homeowners.

3. Immaculate Conception School Redevelopment – the last of the INHS trio of applications, this one a $350,000 request toward its Immaculate Conception School affordable housing development. More on that from Wednesday’s article here.

4. Housing Scholarship Program – The Learning Web, Inc. is seeking $70,560 for tenant-based rental assistance for eight homeless youths and young adults aged 16-24 receiving supportive services. The funds would be used to subsidize six apartment units The Learning Web would lease for the program, providing housing stability and allowing those served to focus on building up their life skills and long-term self-sufficiency.

5. Security Deposit Assistance for Vulnerable Households (2019-20) – Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga Counties is seeking $61,500 for security deposits for 100 low-income tenants, including five Housing for School Success participants, a support program for previously homeless families.

6. Housing for School Success – The Ithaca City School District is requesting $15,700 to cover part of the salary of a social worker who would serve as a case manager for Housing for School Success families.

7. Staffing for Homeless Youth Success – The Learning Web, Inc. is asking for $24,900 to help cover the staff salary for a program associate who would support the Transition Living Program for formerly homeless youth and young adults.

8. Friendship Center Programming at St. John’s Community Services Homeless Shelter – St. John’s Community Services, the operator of the Tompkins County Friendship Center for homeless individuals, is seeking $27,350 to provide programming and services meant to build up skills and well-being of participants. This would include do-it-yourself repair, sewing kits and machines, art supplies, musical instruments, work stipends and SRO rental assistance.

9. Open Doors: Services for Runaway & Homeless Youth – The Family and Children’s Service of Tompkins County has filed a request for $25,000, which would be used to help provide crisis response and case management for 50 runaway and homeless youth to access basic needs, counseling and social services.

Mosaics that are a part of the Mosaic Mural Project, also by the Community Arts Partnership.

Public Services and Economic Development

10. Black Girl Alchemists Public Art Mosaic Project – The Community Arts Partnership is requesting $26,250 for the production of “an empowering and transformative” visual arts neighborhood project created by African-American girls. The mosaics, which are separate from the Black Girl Alchemist Southside public art project, would be displayed at the Downtown Ithaca Children’s Center and other locations around the community.

11. 2-1-1 Information & Referral – The Human Services Coalition (HSC) is asking for $20,000 for its ongoing 2-1-1 information and referral call service.

12. Work Preserve Job Training: Job Readiness – Historic Ithaca, Inc. has filed a request for $20,000 for job readiness training for 20 low- to moderate-income community members. Training takes place at Historic Ithaca’s Significant Elements architectural salvage store at 212 Center St., where participants build their professional skills in retail and customer service, warehousing, online sales, facility maintenance, and furniture repair.

13. A Place to Stay: Night/Weekend Support for Women in Transition – Catholic Charities is asking for $20,000 to support the staffing costs of its “A Place to Stay” program, which works to provide case management, social services and transitional housing to formerly homeless adult women. Read more about the program here.

14. Immigrant Services Program (ISP) – Catholic Charities is aiming for a $30,000 grant to help cover the costs of its support services for immigrants and refugees looking to begin another chapter of their lives in Ithaca. The program funds would support 100 individuals as Catholic Charities seeks to help place them in homes, jobs and support their efforts to integrate into the community.

15. Finger Lakes ReUse Job Skills Training – would like $108,029 to pay for on-the-job training opportunities for at least 22 low- and moderate-income adults with employment barriers (either currently unemployed, disabled, homeless, or formerly incarcerated) as part of its ReSET skills and employment training program.

16. Work Preserve Job Training: Job Placements – Dovetailing with the skills training as part of their Job Readiness program (#13 above), Historic Ithaca is requesting an additional $67,500 to help place six low to moderate income individuals in permanent employment. This includes intensive one-on-one training on goal setting, project management and execution, resume writing, interviewing, and a transition from Historic Ithaca’s store into a new employer. Previous transition employers include Agway and Challenge Workforce Solutions.

17. Hospitality Employment Training Program (HETP) – The Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) is requesting $122,500 for its Hospitality Employment Training Program (HETP), which will provide hospitality and office/administrative job training and readiness for 20 individuals, and job placement for 14.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.