Bradenton City Council hear proposed spending for 2016-17 federal block grants

BRADENTON -- With limited public input, Bradenton officials Wednesday heard proposals for spending $389,677 in Community Redevelopment Block Grants to be allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the 2016-17 budget cycle. The grants are designed to give municipalities a financial boost to target housing and community needs and the funds are dispersed by the city through an application process.

The council took no action on the recommendations, but a plan to devote the funding will be developed later this month, adopted in July and submitted to HUD by Aug. 1 for final approval. The city received requests totalling $579,677.

Of the $389,677 available, the city is recommending $278,184 for its own purposes. Approvals include:

Bradenton, code enforcement: $112,648, for two ongoing code enforcement positions working in low- to moderate-income areas.

Bradenton, clearance: $88,441, for demolition of 10 residential structures deemed unsafe under the city's unsafe structure ordinance.

Bradenton, program administration: $77,095

Turning Points is recommended to receive $33,700 for its emergency housing assistance and prescription assistance programs. Emergency housing assistance pays for hotel vouchers to keep families intact, men with children, single women and those being discharged from a hospital who cannot find shelter.

Gulfcoast Legal Services is recommended to receive $34,043 for an affordable housing preservation program to pay for legal services to low- and moderate-income persons facing eviction, foreclosure, public housing issues, predatory lending and housing discrimination.

Suncoast Community Capital is recommended to receive $43,750 for its pilot program, "Keep it in the Community." SCC Executive Director Tim Dutton said the program will focus on the Central Community Redevelopment Agency and the 14th Street CRA.

"There is a fair amount of research around that shows how important the circulation of money in a given space makes that area vibrant," said Dutton. "Research shows that circulation is less in those types of low-income, non-white communities. In fact, it's considerably less. There also are fewer businesses per capita in those areas of the city than the rest of the city."

The pilot project will target people between the ages of 15-29. Dutton said that age group is the most impacted by unemployment. The project will help those people develop microbusinesses in the neighborhoods over the course of 12 to 18 months by helping develop a business plan and repair credit, as needed.

Unfunded requests include:

Just for Girls, Bradenton Community Connection Center, $40,000

AM & FM Enterprise, Allean's Loving Care, $50,000

AM & FM Enterprise, Sara's Place Transportation, $50,000

AM & FM Enterprise, Sara's Place Client Services, $50,000

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.