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Federal Community Development Block Grants to help Manatee County nonprofits improve, expand

MANATEE -- For some elderly Manatee County residents, Allean's Loving Care is the extra hand, providing companionship and personal caregiver services, said Alberta McIntosh, the nonprofit's president and CEO.

Through the nonprofit's In Home Care to the Elderly program, caregivers help with many daily tasks, and for many seniors, this may be the only interaction with others they have, McIntosh said.

"They don't have anybody else," she said. "There is a great, great need in Manatee County as far as our elderly -- frail, disadvantaged, elderly people."

Soon, the nonprofit may be able to expand its services thanks to a $84,000 federal Community Development Block Grant through Manatee County.

Allean's Loving Care is one of the projects, which met the county's priority housing and community development needs that is on the Manatee County's 2015-16 Action Plan. The county received 24 applications for projects and services to be funded under the near

ly $1.62 million Manatee County will receive in CDBG funds. The county will also receive $140,000 in Emergency Solutions Grant funds and about $435,000 from the HOME Investment Partnership program to be used toward home restoration and replacement.

Bill O'Shea, project manager in the Community Development Division of the county Neighborhood Services Department, said there were a lot of worthy organizations that couldn't receive funding this year.

"Unfortunately, the money doesn't go as far as we'd like it to," he said. "It was a tough decision for the committee. I think in general, the public will be happy with the choices."

There are six projects -- three community development and infrastructure projects and three public service projects -- on the county's action plan for CDBG funds, which will go before the county commission at its June 16 meeting for approval. If approved by the county, the plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval.

The three community development and infrastructure projects are $360,000 for new sidewalks on 26th Street East from Ninth Avenue Drive East to 16th Avenue East in Palmetto; $420,000 to increase the turning radius in 20 intersections along 32nd, 34th and 36th avenues east in Samoset through the installation of grate-top catch basins; and $397,944 for the renovation of the United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida's Bradenton Adult Day Training Center, 2203 30th Ave. W., Bradenton.

When Victoria DeWaters discovered United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida was on the county's CDBG program list, the nonprofit's director of operations said she felt joy.

"It is just overwhelming," she said. "Coming up with that kind of money is very difficult to do. When we are able to secure something like that and work with other community donors, it's a really collaborative community effort and it feels wonderful."

The money will allow the nonprofit to make real, non-makeshift classrooms and other improvements inside the former Knights of Columbus building, in which about 130 individuals from Manatee and Sarasota counties attend daily programs, DeWaters said.

"It is something we really need to do," she said. "All of our individuals who come every day make do with what we have. ... They are excited. They know it is coming."

The three public service projects being recommended for funding are $84,000 for Allean's Loving Care, $49,000 for Turning Points' Project Smile and $60,530 for Manatee Glens' Emergency Transitional Housing for Substance Abuse.

For Turning Points, the grant will allow more people who are low-income or homeless to receive dentures or other dental products, said Adell Erozer, Turning Points executive director.

"This is a big need for us because dental care is the No. 1 health care need in Manatee County," she said. "There is less access to that than anything else."

Turning Points received CDBG funding two years ago for the Project Smile program, which helped pay the lab bill for more than 175 people, Erozer said, adding that Turning Points is the only place for free health and dental care in Manatee County. Lab bills normally are between $5,000 and $6,000 a month, she said.

"It helped to pay the expenses for the people who have no money to pay for their dental care," Erozer said. "I just think people need to realize dental care is very indicative of overall medical care. We are doing our best to make sure some kind of emergency health care and dental care is available."

The money will allow Manatee Glens to fund its Emergency Transitional Housing for Substance Abuse program, which provides rental assistance for substance abuse clients released from treatment for a period between three and 12 months.

"It means a lot to our clients because one of the issues statewide is housing for folks that have behavioral health issues," said Melissa Larkin-Skinner, Manatee Glens chief clinical officer.

She said there is quite a bit of homelessness but Manatee Glens doesn't have the funding for this service right now.

"It will allow us to pay for housing for a limited time," Larkin-Skinner said. "If they don't have a place to live, it is hard for them to participate in the services they need.

"Everybody desires to have a stable and safe place to live and it is something we struggle with all the time and any grant like this helps us make that available for people," she said. "We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to provide it for our clients."

The public can comment on the draft action plan for the next few weeks by emailing bill.oshea@mymanatee.org or by attending the June 16 public hearing.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.

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