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Norwich community development grant applications exceed expected funding

Norwich — The city has received 18 grant applications totaling $1.5 million for federal Community Development Block Grant funding, well over the total $876,317 the city anticipates receiving in the coming federal fiscal year.

Grant applications included $227,000 in public services requests for programs ranging from housing and homeless prevention to job training and children’s services, and $1.1 million for building or outdoor facilities renovations and upgrades. Administrative costs for the program are projected at $189,250.

Human services program applications included several perennial requests, including $60,000 requested for Norwich Human Services’ job training program Norwich Works; $20,000 requested by Safe Futures to run its Norwich office assisting domestic abuse victims; $20,000 for Thames River Family Program transitional housing and homeless prevention and $15,000 Norwich Human Service’s rapid rehousing homeless prevention.

Children in Placement, a statewide organization offering services to children in foster care, requested a $20,000 contribution toward its $505,594 program to recruit and train volunteers to work with children. According to the program’s application, services for youths to address housing conditions and quality of life for the children and families in foster care.

New London-based Immigration Advocacy and Support Center requested $7,000 to assist a growing number of immigrants in Norwich. The program application reported that 39 of 81 continuing cases involve Norwich residents, and 28 of the 91 new cases in 2021 were Norwich residents.

Another outside agency, Neighborhood Revitalization and Training Program, is seeking $25,000 for its dual purpose of providing job training for young adults in the building trades. The group hopes the workers trained in home repairs and construction then can help renovate substandard housing and improve neighborhoods.

The city Public Works Department submitted the largest single request, asking for $358,634 to replacing crumbled sidewalks along Prospect Street in Greeneville. Photos submitted with the application showed patched and missing segments, weeds and brush encroaching on the sidewalks and steep ramps at crossing points.

The city Recreation Department hopes to continue its upgrades at two city parks, adding a walking track to the Taftville park and an ornamental cast-iron fence around Columbus Park at the junction of Franklin Street and Boswell Avenue.

As per usual, the grant applications exceed the available funding. Community Development Coordinator Kathryn Crees said the Community Development Advisory Committee will begin reviewing the applications in March. The committee probably will hold hybrid in-person and online meetings with applicants to present their requests and answer questions. The committee will make recommendations to the City Council on grant awards.

The city also has about $150,000 in unspent CDBG coronavirus relief funds earmarked for economic development that could be used for some of the CDBG applications. Crees will prepare a report to the City Council to request to recapture some of those funds for the grant requests.

c.bessette@theday.com

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