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Waynesboro rejects homeless advocates group's request for money

August 22, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- In rejecting a request for funding from an organization that helps the homeless, some Waynesboro Borough Council members said this week they did not want to allocate money to a group they felt worked outside town.

Maranatha Inc. met resistance for having an office in Chambersburg, Pa., although representatives of the organization said they maintain two transitional housing apartments in Waynesboro and want to make two more available.

"If we're going to do something, we're going to do it in our own community, not Chambersburg," Councilman Ben Greenawalt said.

If approved for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money, Maranatha would have been required by the state to spend the money in the Borough of Waynesboro.

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Councilman Jason Stains on Wednesday made a motion to transfer the $10,000 requested to Maranatha from the CDBG administrative money issued in 2007. His motion died for lack of a second.

Councilman Craig Newcomer recused himself from the public hearing and vote because he has relatives involved with Maranatha.

During the public hearing, resident Amos Miller questioned Maranatha's presence in Waynesboro and said the organization "need(s) to establish a track record."

"My only major concern is who is Maranatha? What is Maranatha? What have they done or will they do for Waynesboro?" asked Miller, of West Sixth Street.

"In the '80s, we started doing things in Waynesboro," Maranatha board member Natalie Newcomer said, saying the organization changed names from Financial Consulting Services.

Maranatha receives half a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development per year, Natalie Newcomer said. That allocation, though, requires community contributions to demonstrate an investment in the group's work, she said.

Maranatha helps homeless families find apartments where they can live for up to 24 months, Christina Newcomer said. The adults must demonstrate an active search for employment and study for a GED if they did not finish high school, she said.

"We have a waiting list of 25 families looking to get into our program," Christina Newcomer said.

About $30,000 was budgeted for CDBG administration last year.

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