Genesis Behavioral Health not yet ready to apply for Community Development Block Grant

LACONIA — Genesis Behavioral Health has informed the Belknap County Commission that it has chosen not to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) at this time.

Earlier this month, after both Genesis and the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region asked the commission to sponsor their bids for the $500,000 the county is eligible to back during the current application round, the commissioners chose to support both applicants on the understanding the funds would be split evenly between them.

Wednesday morning, commissioners approved the $250,000 grant application for the Boys & Girls Club. Club officials have indicated they will apply for another $250,000 in January. The club is in the process of buying the former St. James Episcopal Church on North Main Street and will use the funds to complete that sale, which is now not expected to close until April of next year. The club is currently leasing the facility from the church, which will begin meeting at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Parade Road as of next month.

Genesis, the community mental health agency serving Belknap County and southern Grafton County, would apply the funds to a financing package to acquire and renovate the building at 22 Airport Way in Gilford formerly owned by Southern New Hampshire University. The building is listed at $550,000 and an estimated $1.9-million will be required for the renovations required to house administrative offices and clinical operations of the community mental health agency.

Kristen Welch, director of development and communications at Genesis, said that the agency withdrew after concluding that "we weren't really well positioned to submit a competitive application by the deadline of July 29." She explained that the agency was still negotiating the purchase of the property and was advised by its consultant to withdraw its application and reapply in January.

Welch said that "we'll be able to submit a stronger application and won't preclude the Boys and Girls Club from receiving the full grant."

Welch said that Genesis also intends to compete for the Acute Psychiatric Residential Treatment Program (APRTP), which the Legislature funded in the 2013-2014 biennial budget. She said that the agency plans to sell its property on North Main Street, which houses its administrative offices, and apply the proceeds to the acquisition and renovation of the building on Airport Way. If Genesis is successful in securing the APRTP, it would be located at its facility at 111 Church Street.

Welch said that the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has yet to begin the process of locating the APRTP.

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 Genesis and the Boys and Girl Club and Genesis may apply for CDBGs through a municipality or country, which serves as a sponsor.

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."