Provo, Orem and Utah County are joining forces to make sure that important source funds received through the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program gets used for vital projects helpful to all communities.
“HUD is encouraging more collaboration with other recipients in the area of grants,” said Kena Mathews, Orem services manager. “We don’t raise enough on our own for large capital projects.”
In a letter sent to stakeholders from the three grant entities it said, “During the 2017 program year, Utah County, Orem, and Provo, all direct CDBG entitlements, benefitted 29,520 low- and moderate-income residents through projects such as the Orem Sharon Park Pickle Ball Courts, Self Help Homes Affordable Housing Development in Salem, and RAH Facility Improvements.”
The idea is to not only bring dollars together so they can go further, but to also make the lives of some of the nonprofits easier, according to Steven Downs, Orem spokesman.
“These nonprofits don’t generally employ an individual who specializes in these federal grants, so having to report to three separate organizations only takes away from the time they could be serving individuals. We have found a way to allow them to essentially get the same amount of money, but only deal with one of the three agencies,” Downs said.
After an extensive survey of needs, grant directors in Provo, Orem and Utah County have selected two nonprofit organizations that need major capital improvements done on their locations, according to Mathews.
The two projects are the Family Support and Treatment Center in Orem and the House of Hope in Provo.
“This first time collaboration will allow us to stretch our dollars even further, strengthen the impact of our collective CDBG funding, and make a noteworthy difference for these beneficial community organizations,” the stakeholder letter stated.
In the case of the Family Support and Treatment Center, some of the capital improvement projects are decades past due.
“The building that houses our programs is older and in need of renovations that will make it more comfortable for community members using our services,” said Janelle Christensen, executive director. “As a nonprofit, often funding to update facilities is difficult to secure, so we greatly appreciate this opportunity to accomplish those needed upgrades to improve not only the aesthetics of the space, but the energy efficiency and safety as well.”
Christensen said one of their primary goals as an agency is to offer hope and healing to those who walk through their doors.
“We are very excited to provide a more inviting, welcoming atmosphere for children and families working toward greater health and happiness,” Christensen said.
The capital improvement projects include replacing the HVAC system, insulating the attic, raising the parking lot and replacing the carpeting that has been there since the center opened in 1984.
The House of Hope in Provo will get new doors and decking, new roofing for the administration building, playground structures and a newly paved parking lot.
“Since we opened our facility in Utah County in the late 1960s, House of Hope (originally called Utah Alcoholism Foundation) has thrived due to the support of community organizations,” said Lisa Heaton, executive director. “We evolved from a co-ed program serving men and women to developing a special residential program for women and young children, the only one of its kind in Utah County.”
Heaton said House of Hope is able to work to meet the complex needs of families in distress because the CDBG program has provided the means each year to take on projects to keep the 60 year-old campus in Utah County safe and in good repair.
“Without the CDBG program, we simply couldn’t have helped the number of families we partner to serve as we would have had to direct resources to repairs and upgrades, decreasing the number of beds we are able to keep available,” Heaton said.
“I was so excited when I heard the news that House of Hope would be given expanded financial resources to complete projects in 2019-2020,” Heaton said. “As Medicaid expands in Utah, we want to be able to keep every possible bed open for Utah County residents who are seeking family reunification and treatment.”
Money will still be available to help with smaller projects as well, Mathews said. Last year, 18 nonprofits were funded through the CDBG program.