Update, Oct. 11: On Tuesday, City Council voted unanimously to authorize each of the eight Local Share Account grant applications.
Local nonprofits are hoping to receive grants totaling millions of dollars through a state program funded with casino revenue.
On Monday, eight organizations made their case to City Council, with requests totaling just over $5.5 million. Another eight are lined up to make presentations next month, and the city plans to apply as well, Director of Administrative Services Tina Campbell said.
They are all hoping for grants from the Local Share Account program, administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Originally, only entities in counties with casinos could receive funding, but last year DCED began allowing applications statewide.
Various government entities can apply, including counties, government authorities and economic development agencies. Nonprofits must apply indirectly, with a government entity serving as applicant and pass-through and the nonprofit as its sub-grantee.
Funded projects must “improve the quality of life in the community.” Money can be put toward property and equipment acquisition, construction and renovation. Furniture, consumable supplies, salaries and other operational costs are ineligible.
As part of the process, City Council must pass a resolution authorizing each grant. There is no local match and no cost to the city.
At Monday’s committee meeting, council agreed to consider the first eight resolutions at its regular meeting this coming Tuesday.
The deadline to apply is Nov. 30. The grants are awarded through DCED’s Commonwealth Financing Agency, which meets quarterly. It will likely be Spring 2024 at the earliest before applicants find out if they have been approved, Campbell said. Applicants may receive all, some or none of the money they seek.
The city is confirming eligibility with DCED before deciding which of its own projects to put forward for funding, Campbell said. It expects to have one identified next week.
- South Ann Concerned Neighbors: $400,000 for its planned community center at 259 S. Ann St.
- Spanish American Civic Association (SACA): $476,905 for renovations to its senior center.
- Tenfold: $250,000 for renovations to the Transitional Living Center.
- YWCA Lancaster: $1 million for renovations and expansion of affordable housing at its headquarters.
Whether the city’s applicants bat 1.000 this time remains to be seen, Campbell said. The Commonwealth Financing Authority’s records show that it awarded more than $260 million in the first round of statewide Local Share Account grants; but demand is comparably high.
Here are the eight projects discussed Monday:
• Lancaster EMS: $106,730 to buy a vehicle lift and related equipment as part of its outfitting of 715 Fairview Ave., where it is relocating its fleet maintenance from Columbia Avenue. Doing maintenance in-house allows faster turnaround times, and that’s important because supply chain issues are leading to significant delays on vehicle orders, Chief Financial Officer Joanna Weidman said. “We’re trying to keep this aging fleet of vehicles maintained at reasonable cost,” she said. She noted about half of Lancaster EMS’ service runs are to city addresses.
• Patients R Waiting: $1 million for rent, equipment and staff at the Black Doctor Factory, the education and support center the nonprofit is creating at Southern Market Center. Patients R Waiting wants to make Lancaster a hub for minority doctors, founder Dr. Cherise Hamblin said.
• Long’s Park Amphitheater Foundation: $1 million for renovation of the foundation’s signature amphitheater, now six decades old. The core request is $670,000 to replace the roof, which has to be done before anything else, board President Tom Ellis said. Also planned are electrical and lighting upgrades, renovation of the stage and backstage areas, landscaping, and paving of the gravel lot behind the amphitheater to improve accessibility for mobility-impaired individuals.
Bright Side Opportunities Center: $650,000 for green renovations, including a new parking lot with environmentally friendly features such as permeable paving and a new roof with a solar panel installation. The renovations will have a “significant impact” for the neighborhood and environment and reduce the center’s operating costs, President Willonda McCloud said.
Bethel African Historical Services: $965,000 to replace the HVAC system and the 93 windows at the Rev. Harvey H.B. & Kai Sparkman III Cultural Center as part of a larger renovation project. The project will improve temperature control and air flow and help preserve a historical building that dates to 1895 and serves hundreds of city residents, Project Manager Kelly O’Connor said.
Chestnut Housing: $500,000 to close a funding gap in its $2.27 million Milburn Apartments project, which will convert two fire-damaged properties on Rockland Avenue into eight units of affordable housing for individuals at high risk of homelessness. Chestnut Housing has secured $1.6 million, including $550,000 in city American Rescue Plan Act funding; this funding and a $170,000 loan would complete the financing package, Executive Director Chad Martin said.
Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition: $800,000 to renovate The Loop, the coalition’s building at 117 E. Chestnut St. Among other things, it would cover the installation of sprinkler systems and accessibility ramps to support the creation of 15 units of supportive shared housing upstairs, Executive Director K Foley said.
South Ann Concerned Neighbors: $550,000 to go toward construction of a two-story, 3,000 square foot building at 602 Stevens Ave., with a pizza shop and food market on the first floor and two three-bedroom affordable housing units on the second floor. The total cost is a little over $1 million, and South Ann Concerned Neighbors is seeking a federal grant for the rest, CEO Darlene Byrd said. The site is part of the former Shell’s Disposal & Recycling property where Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology is building duplexes for sale to low- and middle-income households.