NCDC request tops list of Norwich block grant seekers

Norwich - The community development office Friday received a mixture of new applications and annual repeat requests for funding for housing, human services, employment and building upgrade projects for the city's federal Community Development Block Grant starting in September.

Typically, the agency receives many more requests than it has funds available, but the gap was not as stark this year, as the agency steered grant requests to specific categories of programs to address the city's economic needs, Community Development Supervisor Gary Evans said.

In total, the community development office received 15 applications -including its own management costs for administering the grant - requesting $855,618. The city anticipates receiving $801,926 in federal CDBG funds for the grant year that starts Sept. 1.

The applications will be reviewed by the Community Development Advisory Committee, which will interview the applicants and make recommendations to the City Council in May. The City Council will hold a public hearing and has final authority to approve grant allocations.

The Norwich Community Development Corp., the city's economic development agency, requested the highest amount for one project. NCDC requested $170,000 to demolish a dilapidated brick mill building and shore up an adjacent granite mill building at the historic Uncas Leap area on the Yantic River as part of a major effort to revitalize the site as a tourist attraction.

The CDBG request was submitted as a blight mitigation effort, while the agency hopes to obtain a $200,000 grant from the state for a proposed project total of $370,000. NCDC submitted several letters of support for the project, including one from Mayor Deberey Hinchey, who has worked on the Uncas Leap revitalization program, and the Last Green Valley, the national heritage corridor program.

Last year, Norwich Human Services dramatically changed its grant request from funding a winter overnight homeless shelter to creating a shelter diversion, rapid re-housing of homeless people. The agency hopes to continue that program this year, with the same $30,000 grant request to help people obtain permanent apartments or one-time transportation costs to move in with family or friends.

The Thames Valley Council for Community Action also submitted a grant request for $20,000 for homeless prevention efforts. TVCCA would use the money to keep families at risk of losing apartments in their homes through rental and utility assistance. TVCCA estimated the program would help 15 to 16 "Norwich working poor and/or underemployed households."

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