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West Valley City Journal

City allocates annual federal funding

May 30, 2022 06:19PM ● By Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

West Valley City receives federal funding each year from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development through the CDBG program (Community Development Block Grants). The City Council approved the planned allocation of just over $1 million funding in early May.

The program funds various projects allowed in specific areas determined by income. Only 15% of the estimated $1.1 million can be allocated to public services while only 20% can go toward administration.

West Valley City has a five-person committee that reviews applications, mostly from nonprofits, for its grant money and makes recommendations to the council.

“I wish we had enough money to give to all of them (the applicants), they do such good work, but we can’t do everything,” Councilman Lars Nordfelt said during an April study meeting.

Of the nonprofit applications this year, only South Valley Services domestic violence shelter received funding ($15,000).

Josie White, SVS’s grants administrator, thanked the council for its funding. “We value our partnership with West Valley City.” The funding, she said, helps them care for domestic violence survivors both female and male. It also helps them provide dedicated therapeutic care to children.

One major change in this year’s recommendation was $70K going to the city’s Neighborhood Services program to help fund the city’s successful outreach program, Operation My Hometown.

The other public services to receive funding were the parks and recreation’s youth program scholarship, the police department’s community-oriented-policing officer, and the city’s own victim services program.

Representatives from other nonprofits such as The INN Between, Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Road Home spoke to the council in May encouraging them to consider their funding requests in the future.

Jeanie Ashby with The INN Between, an organization that provides end-of-life and medical housing for people experiencing homelessness, said she appreciates the support they’ve received in the past from the city and respects the city’s process. “With limited funding you can only do so much,” she told the council, but was “hopeful for future support.”

      Nicholas Webster is the grants coordinator with Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization that provides one-to-one youth mentoring, noted that half the money allocated to public services by the city is going to “areas related to public safety.”

He said it’s easier to visualize and evaluate the numbers of people arrested or assisted in shelters, and while these programs are beneficial, they address “the impact of events that have already occurred.”

Webster said “another approach is necessary,” emphasizing that Big Brothers Big Sisters focuses on the underlying causes in order to prevent behavior that leads to “pain and suffering,” but it’s difficult to “quantify the efficacy of preventative programs.”

 Councilman William Whetstone suggested in the April study meeting they use different ways to use funding. He noted he saw in other areas where the CDBG was also used as a loan fund that could help economic development in the city.

He asked for further discussion on the matter, noting it’s just a “different way of thinking about the funds,” and that only a portion of it would be used for that.