Friends, on June 2nd the City Commission will be holding a public hearing on their 2020 action plan of their 5 year consolidated plan. It includes asking for input on the proposed Community Development Block Grants that are allocated to many wonderful non-profits and includes the funding for low to moderate income neighborhoods including the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association. We are asking that you submit comments to the City Commission that support increasing our allocation to $4800 from the City recommended $2169, which is about a 55% cut to our funding, funding that has remained reasonably stable over the last few years. Our entire budget is approximately $16,000, so that $2169 will support only about 13.5% of our annual budget. Couple that with our inability to host our 2 major fundraisers (Yart Sale and probably the block party) and this change will cause a major budget shortfall that we will have to work through for the fiscal year that begins on August 1, 2021.
That $4800 goes straight to funding our wonderfully effective coordinator, who is the hub for all communications for ELNA. This includes hundreds of emails from a variety of people and entities. They solicit and prepare content for our Thursday email news and our bimonthly newsletter and regular updates to our website and our solid and continuous social media presence. Oh, and event planning, such as volunteer sidewalk repairs for seniors and cleanups along the river and the Burroughs Creek Trail, regular email communication, and the archiving, tracking, and management of our ELNA documents. With the advent of covid19, since 75% of E Law people are low/mod & so many people in E Law have lost their jobs, child care & now get groceries from Just Food, it is critical to have a formal network to share resources, ask for volunteers to shop, visit seniors, get neighbors to donate diapers and more. We have provided that information directly to their homes. We believe our work has helped keep people in their homes and out of our already large & vulnerable homeless population.
Why is this work so important? It keeps us focused as stewards of our East Lawrence history and culture, it allows us to preserve and cultivate an east side community, and it is a point of connection to the people of the neighborhood for the City and other organizations. Our Coordinator works hard and clears the way so that we can be better prepared to have an impact on what is happening in our neighborhood.
What is a Community Development Block Grant? It is money that comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development specifically targeted to low to moderate income neighborhoods, and also to the agencies that support low to moderate income citizens. The City gets to allocate this large block grant. The East Lawrence Neighborhood qualifies for some of this money because 75% – 2405 of our 3205 neighbors are considered to have low to moderate incomes. The amount of money in the pool that the neighborhoods pull increased slightly from last year, so this reduction of funding reflects a change at City Hall. This year the City changed the process they use to allocate the funds. In year’s past they had an advisory board and we would attend their meetings to justify and explain our request. This year the City dissolved that board and these recommendations were made by 3 departments at City Hall, the Community Development Department, the Finance Department and the City Manager’s Office. We were not given an opportunity to meet with the group that made that decision, so these proposed allocations were made with no input from us.
We will be asking the City Commission to increase our allocation to $4800, which is what we have been allocated for the last few years. We want your help to support us to get that allocation. Please take a moment and send an email to email@example.com and ask them to increase the funding to our neighborhood, and also support an increase for the other designated low to moderate income neighborhoods, our friends at Brook Creek and Pinckney Neighborhood Associations. See below for other ways to submit your comments.
The City adopted a strategic plan with a vision and a mission for the City of Lawrence that also includes critical success factors to measure effectiveness (https://assets.lawrenceks.org/agendas/cc/2017/03-07-17/strategic_plan_framework.pdf). One of those critical success factors is “Safe, Healthy and Welcoming Neighborhoods” and another one is “Collaborative Solutions”. These critical success factors will be a part of all of the decisions that are made. The proposed allocations of CDBG funding for the neighborhoods does not align well with either of these relevant success factors. What NA’s bring to the table definitely strengthen our neighborhoods and makes them a better place for all who live here, and we were left out of the discussion to have an impact on this budget change to our neighborhood.
Please consider sending public comments to the City Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 5 p.m. on Monday June 1. Thank you very much for your help!
President, East Lawrence Neighborhood Association
Info for how to submit comments to the City Commission from the City’s website:
General public comment will be accepted in written form only. General public comments must be submitted 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting. Emails or mail are acceptable and written comments can also be dropped in the Utility Billing Drop Box located at the cut-out at 6th Street and New Hampshire. All comments should be marked for the City Commission.
To submit general public comment by email: email@example.com, or, by mail: City Hall, 6 East 6th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044
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