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    Sunday, March 03, 2024

    Norwich seeks applications for federal pandemic response grant

    Norwich ― The COVID-19 pandemic may be winding down, but the Norwich Community Development office has more than $200,000 in federal pandemic response grant money available to agencies with qualifying projects that are ready to go.

    The Norwich office received a $1.05 million COVD-19 response block grant in 2020, with the requirement that at least 80% of the money must be spent by August of 2023. Norwich has spent 60% of the grant thus far. This week it issued a request for proposals for $200,587 in unspent grant money. The grant money must be used to “prevent, prepare for or respond to the COVID-19 virus,” the RFP states.

    The grant process has a quick turnaround, Community Development Director Sydney Phelps said. Proposals are due by 4 p.m. March 17. The review and approval process will take about 90 days, including a public comment period and approval by the Norwich City Council. Then the recipients must be ready to spend the money quickly to meet the August deadline, Phelps said.

    Phelps said public agencies, such as Norwich Human Services, United Way and Thames Valley Council for Community Action, with COVID-19 programs in place might be best suited for this grant round.

    Eligible expenses include renovations to improve a building’s ventilation and air quality, purchasing personal protection equipment, running food pantries and providing health and other services for senior citizens.

    Separate from the COVID-19 block grant process, the city community development staff are beginning their review of applications submitted for the annual federal Community Development Block Grant. Norwich expects to receive $844,233 in the 2023-24 federal fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Applications received have funding requests totaling $1.4 million.

    Most requests are annual program recipients, including the $70,000 requested by Norwich Human Services for the Norwich Works job training program, $20,000 requested by TVCCA for homeless prevention and $15,000 requested by Safe Futures for Norwich domestic violence response. Norwich Housing Authority, an annual recipient for major public housing renovation projects, is requesting $200,000 for exterior renovations at Rosewood Manor housing complex.

    New requests this year include $15,000 for The Lefty Cycles Project and $15,000 for a food pantry at Three Rivers Community College.

    The Lefty Cycles Project, based in South Windsor, repairs bicycles for people in sobriety, Phelps said, with a goal of providing recipients a healthy activity and a way to build community relations. Phelps said organizers are on the local heroin task force, and other task force members encouraged The Lefty Project to apply for CDBG funding to provide bikes to Norwich residents in recovery.

    Phelps said with all the CDBG grant requests, the review committee must be sure recipient agencies use the money to serve only Norwich residents with qualifying low-to-moderate income levels.

    c.bessette@theday.com

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