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Chapel Hill growth funds fall short

For John French, receiving a Community Development Block Grant meant being able to create 30 jobs for local, low-income youth in 2012.

But French, the resident services coordinator for the Chapel Hill Police Department, and other local groups might not get enough funding for their projects in the coming year.

This type of grant — provided by the federal government and allocated by the Chapel Hill Town Council — gives nonprofits, local governments and public agencies the funds they need to create programs to help the community.

Megan Wooley, housing and neighborhood services planner for the town, said funding might be a challenge this year due to the economic downturn.

“The funds have been decreasing,” Wooley said. “The federal government is responsible for entitlement programs and these have been decreasing across the board.”

In 2010-11, Chapel Hill received $640,743 to allocate to various organizations in the area. For 2012-13, the town received $410,687, Wooley said.

Each year, between 10 and 15 organizations apply for money. Wooley said the town can usually fund only about half to three-fourths of those.

Wooley hopes to receive the same amount or more in funds for the upcoming year.

“The services are important in our community because they are helping people in need,” Wooley said.

The Chapel Hill Police Department is one organization that relies on the grant.

The department’s Youth Employment Program — which provides 14- to 18-year-olds from low income families with jobs — received $25,000 last year, French said.

“All of the money goes to pay the kids for their hard work,” French said. “It provides the kids with independence and allows them to start the school year right.”

French said he hopes the police continue to receive the grant so they can help more youth.

“The program accepted 30 out of 100 applicants this past year,” French said. “We want to be able to expand to allow more kids into the program.”

The Housing for New Hope program also receives funds from the grant. The program helps homeless individuals and families obtain housing.

Terry Allebaugh, executive director of the program, said it received $10,000 last year.

“In the last year, the grant has enabled us to house 17 households,” Allebaugh said. “That represents 32 individuals that were without housing.”

The program has housed 83 households, or 117 people, so far, Allebaugh said.

Chapel Hill is accepting grant applications until Feb. 28, and the Chapel Hill Town Council will approve allocations between April and May.

Both French and Allebaugh said they to receive more in funds this year so they can continue to help those in need.

“We are grateful for the money we receive,” French said.

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