Editorial: CDBG grant money provides critical funding to groups

In 2018, Southold Town received $130,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money that was allocated to various groups and projects across the town. This year, Southold has $260,000 in block grant funds for projects that are underway.

These federal grants, which are funneled to towns by Suffolk County, are vital lifelines that help support a wide cross-section of worthwhile groups and projects. In short, in both Riverhead and Southold, these grants are the key reason important goals are completed when town funding is limited.

In Riverhead, seven nonprofit organizations are seeking block grant funds from the town to allow their organizations to continue in 2020. Among them are the Riverhead Community Awareness Program, The Butterfly Effect Project, Church of the Harvest food pantry and Maureen’s Haven Homeless Outreach.

Catholic Home Care and The Retreat are also seeking block grant funds from Riverhead. To illustrate how critical these funds are, and the kinds of programs they help pay for, the Community Awareness Program is requesting $10,000 for 2020 to support its alcohol and drug abuse prevention program in the Riverhead school district. That money could end up saving lives.

The emergency winter shelter program operated by Maureen’s Haven will open in November. That program now runs seven nights a week for six months of the year. In 2018, the shelter helped 225 people — a huge achievement.

In Southold Town, officials hope to make it easier for pedestrians to make their way around Mattituck’s Love Lane area with a $150,000 plan to create sidewalks near the town’s very well regarded senior center on Pacific Street. Government liaison officer Denis Noncarrow and human resource center director Karen McLaughlin — one of the unsung heroes of town government — recently presented a plan to seek block grant funds to accomplish this project next year.

If approved, the project would install a new sidewalk from the Human Resource Center along the south side of Old Sound Avenue and up to Westphalia Road. Ms. McLaughlin noted that some seniors have had a very hard time navigating  those areas due to the lack of sidewalks.

These grants, appropriately funded by the federal government, are critical to enabling Riverhead and Southold to make streets safer, feed and house the homeless and help school kids navigate their way around serious obstacles they may encounter in life.