By Tom Travis
Support for a North Flint food cooperative, assistance for affordable housing and blighted property demolition, training for school nurses, criminal justice reform, funding for more critical care hospital beds, and creation of a science and technology student mentoring program are among Flint-area initiatives set to benefit from $9.6 million of federal funds approved this week.
The appropriations are part of a $1.5 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government operating through the end of 2022 fiscal year.
U.S. Representative Dan Kildee announced in a press release that 10 Community Project Funding requests from his district will receive the additional funding. The community project funding requests are scattered throughout Kildee’s Fifth congressional district which includes the city of Flint, Genesee, Saginaw and Bay County.
The trillion dollar federal funding package also provides $13.6 billion to support Ukraine as it defends itself against Putin’s unprovoked war.
Why only 10 Flint-area projects?
According to the press release the Congressional Appropriations Committee created a new opportunity for Members of Congress to direct federal resources for certain projects with demonstrated community support. Each Member of Congress can submit up to 10 projects for consideration.
All 10 of Kildee’s community project funding requests passed the House yesterday.
Some of the Flint-area projects that passed the House include:
$650,000 to the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation to help build the North Flint Food Market , a consumer-owned cooperative that will operate as a full-service grocery store. The new market aims to improve access to affordable, fresh and locally sourced produce for Flint residents.
“The North Flint Reinvestment Corporation is delighted to receive much-needed funding to support construction of the North Flint Food Market,” said Pastor Reginald Flynn, Project Manager of the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation. “I, along with the member-owners of our food cooperative, am grateful for the advocacy, hard work, and determination of Congressman Kildee and his staff to ensure residents have expanded access to healthy food in North Flint’s Pierson Road corridor, which has been identified by the USDA as a food desert. We are elated!”
$1,500,000 to the Genesee County Habitat for Humanity for the Flint Home Improvement Fund to assist Flint residents make home upgrades, including furnace and hot water heater replacement, roof replacement or repairs, kitchen and bath upgrades, deck and porch replacement, new siding and other home upgrades to address health and safety issues.
“This funding will enable us to implement a holistic strategy to neighborhood improvement by directly investing in the families who live here. It will give homeowners in the City of Flint access to critical capital for home improvements, who are often left out of traditional lending and federal resources,” said Thomas Hutchison, Executive Director of Genesee County Habitat for Humanity.
$650,000 to Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) to create a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education program for students at SBEV’s north Flint after school center. This will be done in coordination with Berston Field House’s youth mentoring program for young adults ages 11 to 17.
[This will bring a] “transformative impact on our organization and the youth we serve on a daily basis. Through his vision and support, SBEV has been able to continue to serve our community through our program foundation of academics, art, and athletics,” said Maryum Rasool, Executive Director of Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village.
“With these funds we will be able to expand our much-needed mentoring program,” said Bryant Nolden, Executive Director of Berston Fieldhouse.
$5 million to the Flint Registry, which continues to play a critical role in the city’s recovery, identifying individuals exposed to lead during the Flint water crisis and connecting them to critical health care and other resources to improve their health and development.
“Successfully delivering this funding increase for the Flint Registry this year will help the Registry fully operate and support those impacted by the Flint water crisis for many years into the future,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of MSU-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative.
$1 million to the Genesee Intermediate School District to create a school nurse training pilot program.
“The pandemic has further highlighted the need for school-based health services. This funding will help fill important gaps in our community, bringing much needed support in the form of school nurses to Genesee County schools and leading to better health outcomes for students now and into the future,” said Dr. Steve Tunnicliff, Genesee Intermediate School District Superintendent.
$1,450,000 to Hurley Medical Center to purchase 46 new critical care beds.
Hurley Medical Center, a public and non-profit teaching hospital, is requesting $1.436 million to purchase 46 new critical care beds for their critical care units. Hurley Medical Center is an independent, 443-bed public safety-net hospital located in the city of Flint, Michigan, according to Kildee’s website.
$750,000 to the Greater Flint Health Coalition to establish and expand a Community Information Exchange, which would improve mental health crisis prevention and treatment for residents.
“Expanding local capacity to increase access to care and navigation of community health resources is a critical step to provide opportunities for improved health outcomes and mental health needs of our residents,” said Kirk Smith, President & CEO of Greater Flint Health Coalition.
$1,750,000 to the Genesee County Land Bank Authority and the Bay County Land Bank Authority to demolish of 65 of the most hazardous vacant properties, based upon community input, and three vacant and abandoned former school buildings.
“Blight is an environmental justice issue. Vacant and blighted structures attract dumping and other criminal activities, create health and safety risks to residents and depress the value of surrounding homes and businesses,” said Michael Freeman, Executive Director of the Genesee County Lank Bank Authority.
“Eliminating hazards in neighborhoods and commercial corridors is the first step to restoring value to neighboring homeowners, creating opportunities for residents to build wealth through homeownership and creating new opportunities for equitable investment and improvements in areas that have experienced significant hardship over the past few decades.”
$768,000 to Genesee County, including the Office of Genesee County Sheriff and the Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, for a collaborative partnership to create the Genesee County Justice Partnership for Reform to help reduce criminal justice costs, reduce recidivism, and build a stronger local economy by helping formerly incarcerated individuals secure jobs.
“When you’re serious about fixing a broken system, give the people HOPE and a sense of value and watch what happens!” said Chris Swanson, Sheriff of Genesee County.
“This funding will allow us to provide reform to the local justice system through a restorative justice model which will help bring true justice to victims, reduce recidivism among offenders, address generational incarceration issues, and help offenders get on the right track in life and become productive citizens,” said David Leyton, Genesee County Prosecutor.
“We are excited for these multi-million-dollar investments into our community that will have a transformational impact and will pave the way toward building a brighter future for Genesee County,” said Domonique Clemons, Chairperson for the Genesee County Board of Commissioners.
$600,000 to Presbyterian Villages of Michigan to create a workforce training program that will build a pipeline for direct care workers at McFarlan Home and Court Street Village senior living homes in Flint.
“This will also be a significant step in transforming the field to attract and support young leaders well into the future,” said Roger Myers, President and CEO of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.
Included in the $1.5 trillion federal legislation package $348 million is ear-marked for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
$348 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to protect the Great Lakes from dangerous chemicals like PFAS, combat harmful agal blooms and protect against invasive species, such as Asian carp.
“Continued funding for Great Lakes Regional Initiative (GLRI) is essential for our drinking water, our fish and wildlife, and our economy,” said Dr. Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation.
“As the World leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation, Ducks Unlimited (DU) has successfully restored over 80,000 acres throughout Michigan, benefiting wildlife and people alike … This investment into Michigan’s wetlands and associated habitats will help accelerate the conservation work that Michiganders expect,” said Kyle Rorah, Regional Director of Public Policy of Ducks Unlimited.
“Michigan’s annual $2.3 billion recreational fishery is an asset we can’t afford lose,” Trotter said. “This GLRI money will help us cross the finish line on invasive carp, address nutrient levels in Lake Erie and clean up toxic hotspots that are poisoning to our fish and wildlife,” said Amy Trotter, Executive Director of MUCC.
$520,000 to the Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity and the Bay County Habitat for Humanity to undertake critical home repairs, including energy systems and roofs for veterans and low-income households.
In the press release Kildee said, “Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a long-term government funding bill that will help grow our economy and lower costs for mid-Michigan families. I am proud that this legislation includes funding for local economic development projects that will make a real difference in mid-Michigan, growing our economy and strengthening our neighborhoods.”
“I am also pleased that this legislation increases funding for the Flint Registry, protecting the Great Lakes and supporting the Ukrainian people. In Washington, I will keep working to bring resources home to mid-Michigan.”
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.