As a city of over 50,000 people, Lakewood receives a load of federal money it must spend on programs to benefit low to moderate income residents. The city expects to receive an estimated $2,214,511 in community development block grant (CDBG) funds and $96,745 in emergency shelter grant (ESG) funds.
Over the course of the past month, city departments and non-profit groups have been pleading their cases — in very poorly attended public meetings — to the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) in an effort to get a piece of the action. The CAC, composed of Lakewood residents appointed by the mayor and city council, will make funding recommendations to city council on September 30th. Their task is complicated by the fact that grant requests exceed available funding by roughly $200,000 (CDBG) and $80,000 (ESG).
On September 15th, as part of the decision making process, Mayor Edward O. FitzGerald provided his funding recommendations to the CAC. He touched on requests from city departments and LakewoodAlive only. Although he had previously warned the CAC that funding request totals from city were carefully calculated and included no fluff, FitzGerald reduced some dollar amounts even further
Requested/Recommended – Group (*** reduced)
***$57,050/$30,000 – Lakewood Alive-Outreach Services for Housing Code Compliance (Application .PDF)
***$59,928/$45,000 – Lakewood Alive-Economic Development- Mainstreet Approach (Application .PDF)
***$39,000/$27,000 – Division of Aging-Outreach and Case Management Services for Older Adults (Application .PDF)
***$8,000/$7,000 – Lakewood Foundation-Community Leaf and Snow Service (Application .PDF)
$500,000/Full – Department of Public Works-CDBG Street Reconstruction Program (Application .PDF)
$420,000/Full – Department of Planning and Development-Administration incl. Fair Housing (Application .PDF)
$350,000/Full – Division of Community Development-Loan Programs (Application .PDF)
$150,000/Full – Division of Housing and Building-Project Pride Code Enforcement Program (Application .PDF)
$100,000/Full – Department of Planning and Development-EDF- Low-Mod Job Creation (Application .PDF)
$100,000/Full – Department of Planning and Development-CPR- Storefront (Application .PDF)
$92,154/No recommendation – Spanish American Committee – Pre- to post-purchase program (Application .PDF)
$90,000/Full – Division of Early Childhood-Childcare Scholarship Assistance. (Application .PDF)
$60,000/Full – Division of Community Development-Purchase Revitalization Program. (Application .PDF)
$57,500/No recommendation – North Coast Health Ministry-Medical Assistance. (Application .PDF)
$55,000/No recommendation – Department of Planning and Development-Section 108 repayment. (Application .PDF)
$53,250/Full – Refuse & Recycling – Special Refuse Collection (Application .PDF)
$40,000/No recommendation – Beck Center-Art Education Scholarships for LMI students (Application .PDF)
$30,000/Full – Department of Public Works – Madison Park Improvements (Application .PDF)
$25,830/No recommendation – Lakewood Christian Service Center-Supportive Housing Program (Application .PDF)
$21,325/No recommendation – Cleveland Mediation Center-Landlord tenant mediation (Application .PDF)
$8,000/Full – Division of Early Childhood – Family Literacy/ Learn through play (Application .PDF)
$7,000/Full – Division of Aging-Yard Maintenance Program (Application .PDF)
***$34,100/$26,000 – Division of Youth-H.O.M.E.S. (Application .PDF)
$33,842/No recommendation – Lakewood Christian Service Center-Rent and Utility Assistance (Application .PDF)
$31,500/No recommendation – Domestic Violence Center-Shelter Services (Application .PDF)
$20,000/No recommendation – YMCA of Greater Cleveland-Y-Haven Transitional Housing (Application .PDF)
$19,453/No recommendation – MHS -Community Women’s Shelter Operation and Maintenance (Application .PDF)
$19,453/No recommendation – MHS – Emergency Shelter for Disabled Men (Application .PDF)
$17,354/No recommendation – Cleveland Mediation Center-Homeless Prevention Project (Application .PDF)
Mayor: Housing concerns are becoming city’s #1 issue
FitzGerald told the CAC his funding recommendations were directed towards the city’s greatest needs and in areas that would have the broadest impact. He said housing issues are “emerging as Lakewood’s number one issue,” surpassing crime and public safety. He provided committee members with a nine-page document outlining his decision making rationale (see. pdf).
Aside from FitzGerald’s continued assault on funding for human services, his less than absolute support for LakewoodAlive’s funding request is notable considering the organization’s relatively cozy relationship with city hall.
LakewoodAlive needs to diversify funding sources
In his letter to the committee, FitzGerald wrote that he would “expect and challenge LakewoodAlive to use their 501c3 [non-profit] status to achieve their funding goals from other sources.” If the mayor gets his way, in other words, LakewoodAlive Executive Director Mary Anne Crampton is going to have to bust out the tin cup and start begging for money from foundations and wealthy individuals.
Crampton did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the mayor’s action.
A review of her applications indicates she’s LakewoodAlive’s lone full-time employee. A marketing person and a housing outreach person each work part-time. The organization pays $100 a month for office space in the basement of the INA/Bailey building. They also pay $20 a month for a service that allows staff members to work from home, which has resulted in “significant productivity increases.”
Of the $59,928 Crampton is seeking for economic development purposes, $44,928 would go towards her salary and benefits. Of the $57,050 she is seeking for housing purposes, $48,297 would cover the complete salary of the part-time housing outreach person, 20% of Crampton’s salary, and 50% of the salary of a part-time administrative assistant.
Crampton did not provide a copy of her group’s most recent audited financial statement, even though it was required as part of the application. She claims LakewoodAlive has a total budget of $236,400. $121,000 for salaries and benefits and $115,400 for everything else.
Based on the modest sliver of knowledge I have regarding Lakewood’s housing situation, it is doubtful one part-time housing outreach person is capable of making anything more than a slight scratch in the city’s housing problems. In addition, LakewoodAlive’s effort to link improvements in downtown Lakewood to improving the “daily living needs” of low to moderate income citizens is a real stretch.
CDBG money is precious and should be awarded to solid organizations with a proven track record of providing quality services to low to moderate income people.
Do you want to see the money go to the Division of Aging where it will help seniors in need, or do you want to see the cash go to pay the meaty salary of a lady who works from home and is her organization’s only full-time employee?
It’s a no-brainer. LakewoodAlive should hit the road and shake down wealthy donors for funding instead of elbowing truly worthy CDBG recipients out of the way.
It will be interesting to see how city council, where the mayor has more than a few mind slaves, decides to distribute the money.