Community Development Daily: Spotlight on Attleboro (MA) and Fort Wayne (IN)

The Conference of Mayors’ is sharing success stories daily on what Community Development Block Grants support in our nation’s cities.

Attleboro (MA)

Various social service agencies in Attleboro depend on block grant funds to sustain existing services. Over $300,000 has been appropriated to support agencies in the past 5 years servicing over 3,000 low-income Attleboro residents in areas of senior health care counseling, credit counseling, childcare vouchers, English classes, elderly legal services, recreation services for at-risk teens, and the support of our local food pantry.

Through Attleboro’s in house housing rehabilitation program over $600,000 has been invested in the creation and retention of affordable housing. In program year 2015, a $70,000 investment to the Attleboro Housing Authority allowed the agency to leverage an additional $1 million for the installation of energy efficient windows to a 60 unit elderly complex.

Fort Wayne (IN)

The City of Fort Wayne used $400,000 in CDBG funds to renovate a retired, vacant fire station in the heart of a low/moderate income neighborhood. The innovative project resulted in a state of the art kitchen facility used to provide monthly healthy eating and cooking classes to residents of the neighborhood. Several adjacent vacant lots were used in addition to the Fire Station to create an urban garden in a neighborhood that didn’t have access to fresh produce. During the summer months, the provider hosts a weekly farmer’s market with a variety of fruits, vegetables and more. A local foundation has partnered to allow low-income families utilizing SNAP benefits at the farmer’s market to purchase $2 of produce for $1. An additional unique feature of the project is that an organization called Growing Minds operates the urban farm and commercial kitchen facility in conjunction with a mentoring program for low-income children. The program aims to increase leadership, scholarship, citizenship and economic development opportunities for youth and their families.

About the Author:

James Kirby is the Program Manager of The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ DollarWise Campaign, and the Assistant Director of the Council on Metro Economies and the New American City.