WESTFIELD – Community Development Director Peter J. Miller presented plans for $500,000 in CDBG 2021 grant funds at a public hearing on April 21. These funds include the annual entitlement grant of $369,000 plus remaining CARES Act funds.
CDBG funds are intended to serve low to moderate income people, and provide improvements to housing and neighborhoods. Fifteen percent of the funds are allowed to be spent on public service programs.
Miller said this year they will be funding nine service programs, including the Boys and Girls Club summer camp, Camp for Kids, DOMUS HiSet, which provides GED instruction; the Samaritan Inn Day Center, Westfield Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, the Council on Aging Companionship program, YWCA New Beginnings for domestic violence survivors, and the Mental Health Association’s transition program from homelessness. He said more than 800 people will be served by these programs.
Other priority projects this year include continuing small business assistance with 2019 CARES Act funds. Miller said to date the city has spent $280,000 assisting 35 businesses with grants up to $10,000. He said the funds are for operational assistance for losses due to pandemic lockdowns.
Miller said he hopes to provide grants to another 8 to 10 businesses in the city. Eligible business owners must be of low to moderate income, or be able to keep or retain jobs that would otherwise be lost.
For neighborhood revitalization, another goal of CDBG grants, the city is proposing to assist the Westfield Housing Authority by resurfacing Casper Drive. Miller said the Community Development office will work with the Engineering Department’s on-call paving contractor for the job.
A grant of $30,000 is also proposed for the Boys & Girls Club preschool expansion project to assist with furnishings, including desks and chairs, to run the larger preschool program. Miller said the project qualifies for CDBG funding because greater than 50 percent of the families served are low to moderate income. “We’re pleased to be able to provide them with the funding,” he said.
Another $15,000 is slated to assist the Westfield Food Pantry with the establishment of a commercial kitchen on School Street, which is proposed to supplement and service the new food truck. Miller said the CDBG funds will be for equipment for the kitchen.
Westfield will also continue to fund the Housing Improvement Program this year to provide low interest loans to homeowners for improvements to their homes.
“For the past five years, the city has worked with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission on the Westfield Housing Improvement Program,” Miller said. He said this year they have set aside $80,000, which could help six to eight homeowners to fix leaky roofs, replace furnaces and other code enforcement issues.
Miller said the Draft Action Plan for July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 is available for review on the city’s website at cityofwestfield.org, under Community Development/Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). He said the comment period on the 2021 plan ends April 30 at 5 p.m. Comments may be mailed in to the Community Development Office at 59 Court St., emailed to [email protected], or called in to 413-572-6246.