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Hagerstown council hears suggestions on spending Community Development Block Grants

May 08, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday held a public hearing to discuss the way city officials plan to use federally funded Community Development Block Grants.

Community Development Manager Larry Bayer said the city has about $2.98 million in available funds. Some of the programs in which city officials have proposed spending the money range from $500,000 to build affordable housing to $5,100 to help feed people with AIDS, he said.

Hagerstown resident Ron Lytle asked the council how it decides to spend the money. He said some of the money could be used to fund after-school programs, like the one at his downtown art gallery.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said choosing the programs that will benefit from the funding isn't an easy choice, but the money is doled out primarily to organizations that provide residents with food, housing and medical aid.

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Carrol Lourie, a Preston Road resident, suggested the council shift some of the funding to help the REACH Cold Weather Shelter, a facility that provides lodging to homeless people during the winter. Almost 350 men and women were served by the shelter last winter, she said.

On Wednesday, Bayer said the city's CDBG funding has decreased about $240,000 from five years ago, meaning city officials cannot lend as much assistance as they did in the past. The proposed CDBG spending will not be approved until the City Council passes the budget later this month, he said.

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