The city's over $587,000 request focuses on westside rehabilitation and infrastructure, including extensive sidewalk repairs. (WJBC file photo)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - The City of Bloomington's annual federal Community Development Block Grant application will see funding for transitional housing for recently paroled women.
Among the over $587,000 grant request is $75,000 in funding for the Labyrinth Outreach Services to Women and a new six-unit location at 502 N. Oak St.
"We've been accepted and embraced by the West Side Neighborhood Association," President Mary Campbell said. "By providing assistance to these women we'll improve the area because these women are in the neighborhood anyway; they are just there without supervision."
Campbell also said failed projects in the past don't compare to what will be done at the six-unit rehab apartments.
"These women have served their time," Campbell said. "The women who will be staying there are not waiting to go to jail, they are returning and their goal is to get back in the community, to get a job, to go to Heartland Community College, to get a trade, and to get their kids back out of foster care."
When questions arose over whether or not the Labyrinth project was too narrowly focused or would create new problems for a troubled neighborhood, Ward 6 Alderwoman Karen Schmidt defended the program.
"This neighborhood has had problems and I've only seen it get better and better," Schmidt said. "It's gotten better because people have gotten together to make it so - just like this project. I don't think we're just helping five people; I think we're helping generations, we're helping families."
Labyrinth unsuccessfully asked for $300,000 in last year's grant to build a facility on W. Washington.
Meanwhile, Bloomington is additionally requesting block grant funding for sidewalk repairs and several rehab projects on the city's west side. Grant Supervisor Sharon Walker says $50,000 in sidewalk replacement is targeted in low to moderate income areas, covering roughly one-third of the city.
"Public Works will go out and rate the sidewalks the same as they do with the streets," Walker said. "They determine what is most critical to be replaced and then determine if they are in our targeted area."
The 2013 and 2014 block grant application also includes $125,000 in funding for demolition of deteriorating structures. Rehabilitation projects include the West Bloomington Revitalization Projects Facade and Tool Library programs, repairs to the Boys and Girls Club, and loans for low to moderate income households.