The Board of Supervisors’ debate over how to distribute federal grant funding had some nonprofits worried last week they would be excluded.
The board’s finance committee had recommended distributing Community Development Block Grant funding according to a ranking system measured by the county’s Family Services Advisory Board, but with a few changes, including that recipients serve “a considerable number” of Loudoun residents and provide essential life-sustaining services. That eliminated two nonprofit organizations from consideration.
Representatives of some nonprofits, including Offender Aid and Restoration or OAR, which works in the Loudoun Adult Detention Center with the goal of helping to break the cycle of incarceration, were worried that a preference for Loudoun-based organizations would exclude them from Community Development Block Grant funding. While active in the Loudoun jail, OAR does not have an office in Loudoun.
“We believe the county would best be served by evaluating the relationship a nonprofit has with the community, rather than eliminating a nonprofit based purely on their mailing address,” said Brandon Crosby from OAR.
Supervisors stressed that this was not the intent, and that nonprofits that serve Loudoun residents would remain eligible for funding.
Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) made the motion in the finance committee to limit funding to nonprofits serving the Loudoun population.
“It got interpreted as saying, if you aren’t headquartered here, you weren’t eligible, and that was never my intent, I assure you,” Buona said last week.
One of the nonprofits removed from consideration was Liberty’s Promise, which provide immigration legal services. It does not currently serve Loudoun residents, but representatives had said it would use grant funding to start serving students at Park View High School in Sterling.
The other, Just Neighbors, also serves immigrant youth, but supervisors decided against providing a grant because it provided, as County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) has described it, “life-enriching” services rather than “life-sustaining” services.
“I felt that limited money should go to organizations that are meeting critical community needs—critical needs being health, dental, those types of things,” Buona said.
Supervisors ultimately voted to provide funding to Mobile Hope, Northern Virginia Dental Clinic, INMED, two HealthWorks programs, and Crossroads Jobs Inc. In total, the board awarded $166,756 in funding for those programs.
The vast majority of block grant funding must go to capital projects. The county is sending $145,859 to INMED for a Family and Youth Opportunity Center and $500,000 to Loudoun Habitat for Humanity.
Some concerns remain—for example, as Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) pointed out, a significant amount of block grant funding goes to federally-mandated overhead costs. He also objected to the Good Shepherd Alliance not receiving funding.
“It’s sort of baffling to me how Good Shepherd Alliance can’t qualify for any funding, even though it’s one of the most active nonprofits dealing specifically with homelessness,” Meyer said.
The Community Development Block Grant, a distribution of funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is separate from the county’s own grant funding process. Last year, the county awarded just over $1 million in grant funding, including most of the organizations receiving federal block grant funding. It also awarded $69,869 to the Good Shepherd Alliance.
Supervisors voted 7-1-1 to approve the federal block grant funding, Meyer opposed over his concerns about overhead and the lack of funding for the Good Shepherd Alliance. Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) was absent.
Community Development Block Grant Project Funding
Mobile Hope, $30,000.00
Northern Virginia Dental Clinic, $32,405.00
HealthWorks prescription assistance, $19,047.65
HealthWorks dental care for older adults, $21,175.00
Crossroad Jobs Inc., $17,294.50