PORTLAND — A $1.6 million Community Development Block Grant plan for fiscal year 2020 will get its first public hearing at the Monday, March 18, City Council meeting.

City Manager Jon Jennings introduced the plan, which uses U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds, in a March 8 news release.

The spending plan, which allocates money for social programs, economic development and planning and urban development, is based on last year’s funding, as the new CDBG allocations have not been approved in Washington, D.C.

Jennings has recommended allocations largely along the lines suggested by the CDBG Advisory Committee, which has been meeting since last fall.

Included in the funding is an automatic $150,000 for community policing efforts in Portland.

The committee and Jennings also recommend spending $205,000 for a job creation program, $103,000 for lighting improvements on Kennebec Street and $75,000 to build a wheelchair ramp at Mayo Street Arts.

Jennings also recommends spending $313,000 for repairs to sidewalks on Elm Street, which is $90,000 more than the committee endorsed.

In social services spending, Jennings and the committee also agree on spending $51,000 for a peer outreach program run by the nonprofit Amistad to help people with mental health needs and substance use disorders.

Jennings has recommended shifting $20,000 of the $50,000 recommended for mobile medical outreach services and $10,000 of $66,000 recommended for the long-term stay program at Oxford Street Shelters to instead be used to fund the Joe Kreisler Teen Center; the Florence House housing for women; and for food programs at Preble Street Resource Center.

The CDBG application process begins in October, and applications are scored on a 100-point scale split over four categories.

As is usually the case, the city received funding requests above what can be allocated. Jennings said this year’s requests totaled $2.1 million.

A second public hearing on the CDBG plan is scheduled for April 22, and will be followed by a City Council vote. 

David Harry can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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