Brooklyn Park City Council approves grants for social services

The Brooklyn Park City Council approved the allocation of 2017 Community Development Block Grant funds to city BrooklynPark_2programs and public or human service programs on Feb. 27. The grant funds total $605,470. Of these funds, $61,589 were allocated to public or human service programs.
The city’s home repair emergency assistance, code enforcement and home rehabilitation deferred loan program programs, along with the Zanewood Recreation Center, were all allocated funding. Home repair emergency assistance was allocated $100,000, the home rehabilitation deferred loan program was allocated $300,000, code enforcement was allocated $35,000 and Zanewood Recreation Center was allocated $108,881.
In total, nine social or human service organizations were allocated a total of $31,589, with allocations ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Another five organizations that applied were not allocated any block grant funding.
Allocations to social or human service programs are as follows: Avenues for Homeless Youth was allocated $10,000, Brooklyn United Methodist Church was allocated $6,000, the Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin was allocated $6,500, the Community Emergency Assistance Program was allocated $7,000, Home Line was allocated $6,000, The Family Partnership was allocated $7,000, The Tree House was allocated $8,589, Senior Community Services was allocated $5,500 and Youth Engaging Success Inc. was allocated $5,000.
African Economic Development Solutions, African Institute of International Reporting, Asian Media Access, Metro Blooms and Wanlainjo were not allocated any funding.
Allocations were determined based on feedback from council members after hearing testimony at a Jan. 23 public hearing. Council members numerically ranked each program based on its impact to low- and moderate-income families in Brooklyn Park, and staff used the feedback to create proposed allocations.
The council approved the proposed allocation levels in a 6-1 vote, with Councilmember Susan Pha dissenting.
The proposed allocations from staff members could have been amended, if the council so voted.
Pha moved to amend the allocation levels, reducing the Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin allocation by $6,500, reducing the Home Line allocation by $6,000, reducing the Avenues for Homeless Youth allocation by $1,000 and reducing the Community Emergency Assistance Program allocation by $1,500, then reallocating $7,500 to both African Institute of International Reporting and Asian Media Access.
African Institute of International Reporting would help minority owned businesses strengthen their understanding of media relations, Pha said. Asian Media Access’s program would help give youth an opportunity to develop a new skill, she said.
Neither of the organizations that Pha’s amendment would fund have received funding from the city in the past.
Councilmember Terry Parks seconded the motion to amend. He said the council should spread the funding to new organizations, not just ones its has sustained over the years.
John Kinara, housing and development specialist, said if an organization has been allocated funds but has not spent or has difficulty meeting the required reporting standards and federal regulations for spending at the end of the year, the funding stays with the city until the next allocation cycle.
Organizations that do not receive community development block grant funding from another source must be allocated at least $7,500, Kinara said.
While all of the organizations that applied needed to prove their nonprofit status, they did not need to prove their spending appetite, program feasibility or ability to conform to federal regulations when applying for funding, said Kim Berggren, director of community development.
“It can be challenging for new organizations to do it, we’ve had some do well and meet those standards. Others have not met the standards,” she said.
Pha said that though all the organizations with proposed funding are doing good work, she would like to see some of the grant funding allocated to new organizations. The failures of past organizations should not be held against new organizations, she said.
Councilmember Mark Mata said he wanted to use the rating system assembled by staff members rather than amend the allocation levels, and that he would not support the amendment.
Councilmember Rich Gates said he agreed with Mark Mata and would not support the amendment.
Mayor Jeff Lunde said he would also not support the amendment.
“I do think the programs that we’ve allocated money to do great work,” he said.
Lunde said he does not want the programs the council currently supports to need to cut back as a result of reduced funding from the city.
“I know that in the past we’ve had groups cut back on services simply because of the amount of support they’re getting,” he said.
Pha’s amendment motion failed in a 5-2 vote, with Parks and Pha voting in favor, and Lunde, Mark Mata, Bob Mata, Gates and Jacobson dissenting.
The council will review data on its home rehabilitation deferred loan program loan caps to see if they can be capped at a lower funding level, to spread the resource to more residents. Currently, these loans are capped at $30,000. Mark Mata and Pha said they would both like to lower that cap. Lunde said he was open to lowering the cap, depending on the data.

Contact Kevin Miller at [email protected]