Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Council Update: Housing funds approved; meeting urged between police, residents.

Harrisburg City Council tonight approved numerous resolutions tonight before going on summer hiatus.

Harrisburg City Council doled out some $1.9 million in federal housing funds tonight, but not before making tweaks to the administration’s proposals.

Council provided $25,000 to the Heinz-Menaker Senior Center from the city’s portion of annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, a program of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“It is the only senior center in the city of Harrisburg,” council President Wanda Williams said after the meeting. “The services they provide are outstanding.”

The city administration had denied funding for the center, saying its application scored too low to merit a grant.

Williams said she agreed to fund the center on the condition that the money pay for critical infrastructure needs, not the salary of center Director Les Ford. In turn, Ford said he’d use the money to refurbish bathrooms and replace faulty fire doors, in addition to several smaller projects.

To make room for the Heinz-Menaker grant, $15,000 was taken from a proposed allocation for the city’s Police Bureau, which still will receive $90,000 to help pay for a new community policing van and a police cadet program.

Another $10,000 was taken from the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development, which still will receive about $43,000 to cover unreimbursed costs related to the sinkhole project on S. 14th Street, including money for fencing.

City Council wanted to fund a small nonprofit called Breaking the Chains, which works with at-risk youth in Harrisburg. However, before the meeting began, council members determined that the organization’s application did not meet the requirements of the CDBG program.

Like last year, the greatest single amount of money, $562,248, went to repay federal loans the city backed during the Reed administration for several development projects, including the disastrous Capitol View Commerce Center project, which went bankrupt before being completed years later by a new owner.

Other CDBG recipients included:

  • City Housing Rehabilitation Programs: $330,000
  • Tri-County HDC: $150,000
  • City Emergency Demolition: $120,000
  • Harrisburg Fire Bureau: $51,686
  • Habitat for Humanity Greater Harrisburg Area: $30,000
  • Rebuilding Together: $15,000
  • Christian Aftercare Recovery Ministries: $25,000
  • A Miracle 4 Sure: $25,000
  • Latino Hispanic American Community Center: $25,000
  • Fair Housing Council: $25,000
  • Mid Penn Legal Services: $15,000
  • Neighborhood Dispute Settlement: $3,900

While the city undertook the annual process of distributing CDBG money, funding is not assured as the Trump administration has threatened to end the program.

Also at tonight’s meeting, City Council:

  • Approved a series of resolutions for the installation and monitoring of video security systems at Reservoir Park and at the playground at N. 4th and Emerald streets.
  • Passed a resolution allowing the city to enter into a professional services agreement for engineering and environmental services with Lower Allen Township-based Barton & Loguidice for the city’s proposed new composting facility in Susquehanna Township. The resolution will allow the city to complete an application required by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
  • Approved a resolution for a professional services agreement with Hampden Township-based Dawood Engineering for engineering services for MulDer Square, a major revitalization project on Allison Hill.

Originally, council had planned to vote tonight on whether to transfer $65,000 to permit police to purchase new protective, or riot, gear. That vote has been delayed until after council members return from summer break on Aug. 29.

In the interim, Councilman Ben Allatt asked the administration to schedule two meetings between community members, especially those who oppose the purchase of the gear, and police to discuss differences between them and to help heal divisions.

“I’m very concerned about a growing disconnect I see between law enforcement and the community,” Allatt said.

 

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