2 local nonprofits were unaware the other was also going to be asking county to sponsor block grant application
Published DateLACONIA — Neither the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region nor Genesis Behavioral Health was aware that the other intended to ask the Belknap County Commission to sponsor its application for a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
Both are seeking $500,000, which places the commission, which can sponsor only one grant in that amount, in the position of choosing between the two organizations or dividing the funds between them. The deadline for applications is July 27 and the commission has scheduled a public hearing on the requests for July 10.
The Boys and Girls Club, which has paid $190,000 toward purchasing St.. James Episcopal Church for $700,000, seeks the funds to defray the balance of $510,000. Genesis would apply the funds to a financing package to acquire and renovate the building at 22 Airport Way in Gilford formerly occupied by Southern New Hampshire University. The building is listed at $550,000 and an estimated $1.9-million will be required to renovate to house the administrative offices and clinical operations of the community mental health agency.
Each year the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) receives between $8-million and $10-million from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for distribution as grants to municipalities and counties. Nonprofit agencies like the Boys and Girl Club and Genesis may apply for CDBGs through a municipality or country, which serves as a sponsor.
Kristen Welch of Genesis said that because the property it seeks to acquire is in Gilford, the agency had no choice but to seek the sponsorship of the county. Grant applications are scored competively and Gilford's statistical profiile as a "wealthy" community would work against any application the town sponsored.
Cheryl Avery, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club said that the organization is seeking to broaden its reach beyond Laconia to the Lakes Region and therefore applied through the county. However, she said that "we both feel bad about what has happened" and added that the club "has not ruled out approaching the city (to be its sponsor)."
With the deadline for applications fast approaching, no other organization has asked the city to sponsor its grant application.
The CDFA sets aside $100,000 to fund feasibility studies and another $500,000 for unforeseen emergencies then splits the remaining balance of the allocation, applying one half to economic development and the other to housing and public facilities. The Boys and Girls Club and Genesis would likely fall into the category of public facilities, which includes "water and sewer system improvements, transitional and homeless shelters, sidewalks, handicapped access, and neighborhood or community centers that provide public services to low and moderate income people."
The Boys & Girls Club attempted to use a county-sponsored CDBG to fund the purchase of The Citizen building on Fair Street several years ago but missed the application deadline due to a meeting had to be postponed.