Community Development Block Grant funds are used for repayment of the Section 108 loan the city took out to renovate and expand the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center.

Community Development Block Grant funds are used for repayment of the Section 108 loan the city took out to renovate and expand the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Senior Center, local organizations get boost from federal grant money

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 3, 2021


ST. CLAIR SHORES — Organizations that help local seniors, children, the homeless and more will benefit from money allocated to different public service organizations through the Community Development Block Grant program administered by St. Clair Shores.

Fulfilling requests from nine different public service organizations, along with paying for eligible operations at the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center, repavement and repair of eligible streets and repayment of the loan to renovate and expand the senior center, City Council members voted to approve the 2021 annual action plan and budget for the Community Development Block Grant Program at its April 19 meeting.

City Planner Liz Koto said that every public service organization that asked for help did receive funding from the city’s CDBG allotment, but not every organization received all the money it requested. The city is receiving less money in 2021 compared with 2020, and an additional organization is being granted funds.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has granted St. Clair Shores $878,860 in CDBG money, a $6,453 decrease from 2020. In addition, in 2020, the Macomb County Chore Services was not able to receive funding because the services it provides were not deemed eligible. This year, a new organization, Macomb Community Action Grass and Snow Program, is supplying the same services to about 40 elderly and physically challenged residents and is eligible for CDBG funds.

City Council members voted April 19 to approve the following CDBG allocations in accordance with the recommendations from Koto and the Planning Commission:

• $132,435.18 to be allocated for the Section 108 loan payment for the renovation and expansion to the Senior Activity Center. The amount will be approximately the same until 2024, when the payments will begin dropping by a few thousand dollars each year until the loan is completely repaid in 2038;

• $85,000 for eligible operations of the Senior Activity Center;

• $10,000 for the Amelia Agnes Transitional Home for Women, which provides up to 24 months of services to teach self-sufficiency and economic independence, while providing counseling, a private suite, 24-hour childcare and 24-hour transportation for mothers who have accepted employment with non-traditional hours of work;

• $1,500 for Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, which provides wigs and support services to children who may be undergoing cancer treatment or have a disorder that causes hair loss;

• $5,250 for Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit’s Lake House, which serves people who have been touched by cancer with group meetings, wellness activities, social opportunities and educational seminars;

• $15,000 for the Macomb Community Action Grass and Snow Program;

• $1,125 for Turning Point, an emergency shelter for families and individuals fleeing violent situations in their home, which also provides programs for children, advocacy, counseling services, health care assistance, forensic nurse examinations, education and emergency shelter;

• $9,900 for Care House, a child-friendly facility that coordinates the investigation, prosecution and treatment services to victims of child sexual and physical abuse;

• $4,875 to the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team, or MCREST, which provides temporary shelter at participating churches for the homeless in Macomb County;

• $7,500 for the St. Clair Shores Hockey Association Player Enablement Fund, which helps families who cannot afford the cost of ice time pay for it, as well as provides equipment to those players who cannot afford it;

• and $3,750 for MCWARM, which provides shelter, a hot meal, clothing, showers, haircuts, laundry and more to the homeless and those who need assistance due to job loss or other special needs at St. Margaret of Scotland Church.

Koto said the city is able to use $180,000 worth of CDBG money to pay for administration of the block grant program and has allocated $422,524.82 to streets and infrastructure replacement in areas of the city that are eligible.

Out of the administration budget, the city also allocates $4,000 to the Fair Housing Center and $20,000 to the Macomb Homeless Coalition. Koto said that the city has $230,000 it could reprogram from prior years, as well, which could be put into the streets program — if an additional street was in need of repair — or to pay for a longer street to be done.

Councilman John Caron commended the Planning Department for doing the hard work to allocate the funds.

“Every year, you have this very hard task of not only helping the Planning Commission as they hear from all the people requesting funds ... hearing the stories that go behind them, all the people they’re really going to help,” he told Koto. “It’s great that everyone that requested funds, you managed to budget for them.”

His motion to approve the 2021 CDBG budget was supported by Councilman Peter Accica and approved with a 6-0 vote of City Council.

The Section 108 loan helped bring the Senior Activity Center up to par, said Mayor Kip Walby.

“Just to be cognizant of that. That’s a lot of money going in there to take care of that whole thing,” he said.

Koto said the money available to be reprogrammed cannot be added to the public service organizations allocation, the administration budget or the Senior Center, which is why she was recommending it be added to the streets fund. However, she said, it could remain in reserve to be used if the city discovers another eligible project on which to use the money.

“It is just fine sitting, if you want to keep it in reserves,” she said.

Walby said, in the past, the city has used the money to make Americans with Disability Act improvements and also to improve a qualifying local park.