Pittsfield Human Services Advisory Board advises 2023 CDBG Awards / iBerkshires.com


PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Social Services Advisory Board on Thursday voted $206,250 in recommendations for the fiscal year 2023 Community Development Block Grants.

Proposals from more than 20 local agencies and organizations will be submitted to Mayor Linda Tyer and City Council for approval during the FY23 budget process.

the federal funds support services for families with children, those experiencing housing insecurity, residents with disabilities, seniors, and arts programs.

During the meeting, the volunteer committee members expressed a desire to have more funds to disperse.

“At the agencies, we wish we could give you more,” President Rosalind Kopfstein said.

Since the 2023 CDBG allocation is not yet known, the proposed budget is based on last year’s allocation of $1,359,378. Up to 15 percent of the annual allowance may be allocated to social service agencies.

The $206,250 represents $154,500 in projected CDBG funds and $51,750 in general city funds.

The committee held six meetings from January to March during which presentations from organizations seeking funding were made.

In February, there was a public hearing for the city’s 2023 Annual Action Plan to seek input on how the city’s CDBG funds should be used to benefit the community.

The Elizabeth Freeman Center has the largest proposed allocation of approximately $17,500. During the EFC presentation on January 27, Executive Director Janis Broderick spoke about the need for the center’s 24/7 domestic and sexual violence services, especially during the pandemic.

“When COVID hit we knew there would be an increase in violence and a decrease in access to help, so we never closed our doors, our biggest fear throughout this time. was that someone was missed, our offices remained open and staffed to receive walk-ins, provide basic emergency assistance, facilitate access to online resources and court hearings for protective orders,” she said.

“Our shelter remained open to protect those in danger and, in hiding, we continued to provide transportation to our offices and left secure phones throughout the county in police stations, courts and hospitals so that people can call us safely.”

Broderick said phones in March 2020 were “eerily quiet”, which was worrying, but by late April the calls were pouring in. Not only has the number of calls increased dramatically, but the center has seen higher levels of danger with lethality assessments noted regularly. in severe and extreme ranges.

There was also great financial need, housing and “horrendous homelessness”, she said.

“Since COVID arrived, the number of people calling our hotline has increased by 77%, the number of calls, repeat callers, has increased by 240% and the number of hours we spend on the hotline for those calls increased by 330%,” Broderick explained.

“And our cost of motels to house survivors and their families at risk when there was no other suitable shelter available increased by 72 percent.”

She added that the center has also been successful in helping families struggling with homelessness obtain housing vouchers and help through other center programs.

Committee member Dina Guiel Lampiasi commended the center for its important work and asked Broderick how to ensure CDBG funds would be spent on Pittsfield residents as the center serves the county.

Broderick said the majority of customers come from Pittsfield and most of the center’s spending is concentrated in the city.

“The work you do is just phenomenal and you save so many lives,” Kopfstein said.

Roots Rising, whose mission is to empower youth and build community through food and agriculture, is set to receive approximately $17,100 for its youth team program.

The organization hires Pittsfield teenagers for paid work on farm shifts, food pantries and at the Roots Rising Farmer’s Market.

“So what is the impact of our crews in 2021? 94% of crew members said they had a stronger work ethic, 94% felt less sad, anxious or lonely, 88% felt that crew Roots Rising had helped them grow as people, 94% felt better prepared for the job market, and 100% felt more proud of their community,” co-founder and co-director Jessica Vecchia explained during her presentation on March 10.

“These stats don’t tell the whole story, in the words of one crew member, ‘Roots Rising gave me the opportunity to look inside myself, it showed me that I’m appreciated and seeing my crew has been the best five weeks of my life.'”

The committee struggled with a funding request, as the Tyler Street Lab was unable to present to the group, but agreed to offer funding with their request information.

The Community Development Space is a pop-up neighborhood initiative based in the Morningside neighborhood.

The lab does not currently have its 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation and will need to have it by July to receive CDBG funds.

The following organizations and agencies are proposed for funding from CDBG to support a service program within it. Amounts are subject to change during the approval process.

  • 18 degrees, $16,191
  • Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, $16,686
  • Berkshire County Children’s Venue, $9,127
  • Community Access to the Arts, $2,997
  • NAMI, $6,187
  • Center Brien, $13,751
  • Berkshires Child Care, $7,004
  • George B. Crane Memorial Center, $5,291
  • Services for seniors, Meals on Wheels, $8,226
  • SHINE Senior Services, $3,023
  • Berkshire Center for Justice, $3,806
  • ServiceNet, $16,183
  • Cerebral Palsy United, $5,967
  • Habitat for Humanity, Community Connections, $7,591
  • Habitat for Humanity, Community Browsers, $8069
  • Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, $5,509
  • Berkshire Immigration Center, $8,716
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center, $17,544
  • Community Legal Aid, $15,965
  • Berkshire Nursing Families, $5,280
  • Rising Roots, $17,157
  • Roots and Dreams – 1,500
  • Tyler Street Lab – 1,500
  • IS183-2979

Key words: CDBG,

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