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The City Journals

Council approves CDBG funding for needed programs

Jul 20, 2021 10:52AM ● By Travis Barton

City Council recently approved community development funding it gets from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (File photo City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

While it may be an annual occurrence, the weight of its importance still holds value for those it helps. 

The West Valley City Council approved its annual Community Development Block Grant budget in early June. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with it slated for city neighborhood and infrastructure projects, administration and public services. 

Some of those public services include the Family Support Center Crisis Nursery, South Valley Sanctuary and the Salt Lake Community Action Program with its Redwood food pantry. 

Josie White, grants administrator with South Valley Sanctuary—a domestic violence service provider—told the council in its meeting that they provided services to 246 West Valley City residents. That included providing shelter to 86 residents with an average stay of 31 days. 

“Funding from West Valley City helps us provide services for residents at no cost to them,” she said, noting that each night of shelter costs $65 meaning that the cost of shelter for those residents was almost $174,000. The sanctuary received the full funding of $20,000 it requested. 

Nathan Breinholt, food and resource center manager for Utah Community Action, told the council in the same meeting their program served over 13,000 West Valley City residents from July 2020 to March 2021, almost 10% of the city’s population. 

“I’m glad UCA has been able to serve that need in your community,” he said. 

The program operates two food pantries in West Valley City and Midvale. Demand has increased over the past year, he said, requiring them to increase the amount of food they provide from three to five days to seven to 10 days. 

Their request for $10,000 was fully funded with all of it going toward salaries, benefits and operating costs of the pantry, Breinholt said. 

But not every requesting entity received funding this year. A change from the large amount city officials could give last year when HUD removed the normally 15% cap on funding provided to public services. Last year saw over $267,000 awarded compared to the $160,000 this year. 

Layne Morris, West Valley City’s community preservation director, told the council they funded every applicant last year, but was not the case this year. He expected more applications last year, but was surprised at the fewer applicants. 

“Now that could be (because) they faced daunting federal regulations that we’re (required to) foist on some of those one-time applicants,” Morris said. “(Maybe) they decided they didn’t want to go through that again, but we very much had a reduced applicant pool this year.” 

One entity, Journey of Hope which aims to empower previously harmed women, girls and LGBTQ youth, did not receive its requested $12,000. Founder Shannon Cox said part of their work is extracting the vulnerable population from dangerous situations such as abusive homes or human traffickers. 

“We’d like for you to consider the service we provide to some of the most vulnerable in your community is worth funding,” she told the council. 

The city utilizes its CDBG committee of seven members consisting of both staff members and residents to hear agencies present their projects, review applications and discuss funding requests. The committee then makes recommendations to the City Council based on votes according to each agency’s score, impact to residents, best use of funds and staying in line with the city’s five-year plan and HUD’s direction. 

Councilman Lars Nordfelt was appreciative to all who applied.  

“Thanks to all those who applied and provided those services for those who really need it,” he said. “I wish we could do more, but you’re doing the really hard and it should be recognized.”