Funding for the Labyrinth Project transitional housing is still uncertain. The building seen here has been demolished and a plan is in the works. (WJBC file photo)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - Bloomington City Council members are split on how to spend Community Development Block Grants.
Most Monday night said they like the proposed spending split between rehabilitation loans and public service grants, but some members don't like that a large chuck of the proposed $587,000 would go to the Labyrinth Project for transitional housing for recently paroled women.
"Big numbers like $150,000 seems like kind of a lot to put towards one project," Alderwoman Jennifer McDade said. "They would need to be the top priorities, in my opinion, if we were going to go down a path of aligning community needs with projects."
McDade said she likes funding going toward projects that fight crime and create jobs.
Alderman David Sage said he didn't have an opinion one way or another on the project, but did question spending $150,000 on the project to house four residents at a time over twenty years.
"Estimating that they stay there for a couple of years each, it comes out to about 40 people over 20 years $150,000 plays out to about $3,750 per person," Sage said.
CDBG Administrator Sharon Walker told the council the project is in the planning stage. The building that stood at 604 Washington Street has been demolished. She said local agencies have also promised help, including volunteer labor from Habitat for Humanity, Youth Build and the labors and trades.
Alderwoman Judy Stearns said spending $150,000 of federal grant money on one city project isn't the best use of the funds.
"Not knowing if they're from McLean County or where they are coming from and not knowing exactly what the program really is to rehab these people through housing, not jobs, but housing," Stearns said.
She said she preferred the money going toward rehabilitation loans for low income residents.
Other council members offered positive comments on other proposed project spending, including rehabilitation loans, job training programs and help to social service agencies.
The final list of projects will be presented in February. The city may not get the $587,000 it is asking for. The federal government's appropriations have been going down in recent years. Walker said the final amount will probably be released in the spring.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com.