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Grant generates good news for Services for Older Citizens

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 12, 2017

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GROSSE POINTES/HARPER WOODS — Services for Older Citizens, which provides programs and assistance for seniors in the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods, is getting a boost from Community Development Block Grant funds.

SOC, located at 158 Ridge Road in Grosse Pointe Farms, will receive nearly half of the roughly $280,000 that the five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods have been awarded this year, thanks to a new effort introduced by Wayne County to encourage municipalities to pool their CDBG funds to have a bigger impact.

SOC is slated to receive $75,000 for an emergency generator — something it currently does not have — along with $25,000 for a canopy to protect visitors using the front entrance stairwell, and $30,000 to renovate the basement to create better storage and a space for programs and an emergency storm shelter.

This year, the county was planning on awarding three grants of about $300,000 for joint proposals from Wayne County communities.

“I’m thrilled that the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods got one of them,” said District 1 Wayne County Commissioner Tim Killeen, D-Detroit, whose district includes the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods.

The remainder of the grant, $150,000, will be used for a minor home repair and housing rehabilitation program being operated out of Harper Woods. The program is for residents who might not have the means to undertake needed work on their own.

“I’m also delighted about that because maintaining housing at a decent level is very important to Harper Woods and all of the surrounding communities,” Killeen said.

The funding for SOC is welcome because SOC plays a role in helping local seniors stay healthy and active.

During a recent severe windstorm, SOC Executive Director David Dieter said, SOC was able to serve as a warming center for local seniors only because it didn’t lose power. Having a generator “is particularly important to us” because it will enable SOC to serve as a cooling center as well as a warming center during widespread local power outages.

“We’re looking at ways to make it a 24-hour (use),” Dieter said of the building, which is typically open during weekday business hours, unless there is a special evening or weekend program.

Killeen said the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods were competing with communities from throughout Wayne County for one of these larger grants.

“We set aside a chunk of (CDBG) money (this year) to say, let’s get some bigger projects going,” Killeen said of the county’s rationale for the new CDBG initiative.

At press time, Dieter said he didn’t know exactly when SOC would be getting the generator, because it needs to go through the bidding process, but it likely would arrive later this year.

“We’re very grateful to Tim (Killeen) for his assistance in getting this,” Dieter said. “We’ll be able to serve the community in a new and expanded way.”

Without the grant, Dieter said, SOC “would not have been able to” purchase the generator.

Grosse Pointe Shores City Manager Mark Wollenweber also noted that Killeen “was very instrumental” in helping the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods to secure this funding.

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