Victoria City Council heard preliminary plans Tuesday for allocating more than half of a million dollars in Community Development Block Grant funds to local facilities and services.
Julie Fulgham, Victoria’s director of development services, read the 2019-2020 budget proposal to the council Tuesday. The federal grant annually gives about $500,000 in funding for facilities, programs and services designed to benefit residents with a low-to-moderate income. In recent years, the program has funded projects including improvements at the Hopkins neighborhood park and transit shelters at city bus stations.
The total budget for the 2019-2020 year is $637,209.07.
The proposal read Tuesday recommends allocating a large bulk of the money, $270,000, to Mid-Coast Family Services. The nonprofit works to eliminate family violence, homelessness, sexual assault and substance abuse, according to its website, and had requested $300,000.
Ginny Stafford, Mid-Coast Family Services’ chief executive officer, said the group requested the money to help fund a new wing to their shelter, which will be called the Family Support Center.
Stafford said the city first allocated about $500,000 in CDBG funds that helped fund the $1.76 million cost of the shelter, which opened in 2012. She said that immediately after moving in, they realized they had under-built and needed more space.
The nonprofit requested more CDBG funds a few years later, which helped fund a second wing that opened in 2017. Now, they are requesting funds for the third time to build an additional wing to serve children and families.
“In the midst of all this, we missed something, and it was because we were so involved with the emergency part of it that we missed the long term, and that was children’s services,” Stafford said.
The new wing will be dedicated to children and families and provide opportunities, including support services, small groups, parenting classes and space to bring in mental health counselors. Stafford said the wing will cost a minimum of $400,000.
“Every single dollar that’s allotted goes into bricks and mortar,” she said. “We don’t take anything out for overhead, for any kind of salary, it’s all for that facility.”
Stafford said that since the shelter opened in 2012, it has served about 3,600 victims, with half of those being children.
“We can do better, and we ask for your support in doing that,” she said.
Additionally, the CDBG budget proposal recommends allocating money to agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club after-school and summer camp programs, Meals on Wheels and the Salvation Army’s life skills program.
City spokesman O.C. Garza said the funding is vital for some of these agencies and programs to exist.
“The CDBG money is a way to get some of the federal tax dollars that Victorians pay to Washington to return to Victoria and help those in need,” he said. “And in all honesty, if these funds weren’t available, many of those programs would not be in effect.”
The final action plan will be presented for approval at the Victoria City Council meeting on Aug. 6. After approval, funds will be available for expenditure from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2020.
Also on Tuesday, the council approved a first reading regarding lowering the speed limit along a stretch of Ben Wilson Street between Sam Houston Drive and Red River Street. The idea behind the ordinance, which would drop the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph, is to create a safer area for pedestrians as the city gets closer to building a new corridor near the University of Houston-Victoria.