Niagara Falls has begun distributing more than $2.5 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG-CV) for COVID-19 related services.
The grants are part of supplemental funding provided to the Falls by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development "to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 crisis."
The grants were targeted to not-for-profits that largely work with vulnerable and underserved communities.
At a Wednesday news conference, Mayor Robert Restaino presented close to half a million dollars for homelessness intervention, rental assistance and utility assistance to help local families avoid eviction and homelessness.
The $448,590 grant is the largest of the Emergency Solutions grants to be awarded.
Catholic Charities services the Western New York region, covering eight counties with 43 professionally staffed locations.
Deacon Steve Schumer, Catholic Charities President and Chief Executive Officer, thanked Restaino for shepherding the emergency funds through the Falls City Council and into the community.
"Thank you, Mayor Restaino, for your collaboration with local partners like Catholic Charities to support the needs of those residents of Niagara Falls who continue to face great challenges during this ongoing pandemic," Schumer said. "Housing and utilities are basic needs that are critical to every one of us. Because of these specific funds, we'll be able to say: Yes, we have help for you. That is truly a Godsend."
Restaiino has described the grant allocations as part of an effort by his administration to "plow" federal funding into the community.
“The health and economic impact of this pandemic has been devastating to many,” Restaino said. “My administration has been committed to using available funding for many different aspects in the fight against COVID-19. Whether it is funding virus test kits for the schools and the community or, as here, lifting the burden of how families survive the negative economic impact and maintain stable family housing. I am happy to assist Catholic Charities in delivering this service to our community.”
Other Emergency Solutions Grants have been designated to:
• Community Missions was awarded $311,966 for personal protective equipment, emergency shelter/essential services/operations, homelessness intervention RRH, rental assistance and emergency shelter and renovation.
• Pinnacle Community Service, which operates Passage House and Casey House, was granted $189,682 for emergency shelter/essential services, personal protective equipment and outreach.
• Neighborhood Legal Services received $38,866 for homelessness intervention RRH, and legal advocacy to prevent homelessness.
• Heart, Love & Soul was granted $125,000 for personal protective equipment, outreach, coordinated entry, and activities linked to Continuum of Care (CoC).
Community Development Block Grant Funds will be distributed to:
• The YWCA Carolyn’s House, $31,000 for its playground.
• The Niagara University – Niagara Falls Health Equity Task Force was awarded $152,194 for personal protectives equipment and outreach.
Pinnacle Community Services is also receiving CDBG assistance for Casey House and Passage House in the the amount of $159,028 for a porch project to create social distancing within Casey House and $39,021.88 for a similar project at Passage House.
The city is awarding $50,000 to Highland Club House for personal protective equipment and outreach.
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is slated to received $100,000 for suicide prevention efforts tied to COVID-19 and YWCA Carolyn’s House will garner $51,229 for its summer youth program.