By Tom Travis
Editor’s note – this article has been updated correcting Councilperson Eric Mays’ return to council meetings on Sept. 6 after being removed for 30-days by a council vote in August.
City council approved $5.2 million allocated from the city’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) to fund three local agencies (GCCARD, Metro Community Development, and Habitat for Humanity) for home repairs and improvements.
The council also allocated $326,000 from the city’s ARPA fund to be used for lead abatement for houses in the city. According to the resolutions, the city’s ARPA compliance firm Ernst & Young will review and ensure the $5.2 million complies with the U.S Treasury rules.
How residents can apply for home repairs program
The city’s administration is in the process of getting contracts in place with the service providers. Residents will need to contact the agencies directly, but first the City will compile the information for every program so that residents can easily access it. This information will be shared with local media, on the city website, and on social media.
But for now, Flint residents can get ready to apply for home repair programs by signing up for Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund (MIHAF). Information about this program, including the application link, is available here: https://www.michigan.gov/
The council did not approve and sent back to the Finance committee a resolution calling for a change order of $40,000 for paint services in the newly renovated council chambers and a resolution calling for $1 million for the Rx Kids program.
The council will begin conducting committee meetings only in the newly renovated council chambers on Wednesday, Sept. 6, according to City Clerk Davina Donohue.
Rx Kids denied $1 million from city council
A resolution that would have allocated $1 million from the city’s ARPA fund to the Rx Kids program was not approved by council and sent back to the Finance committee.
Pregnant women in Flint will receive $1,500 each, no strings attached, through a new program called Rx Kids announced by the State of Michigan and other partners this week. The program aims to provide every pregnant person and infant in the city of Flint, no income requirements attached, for food, prenatal care, rent, or whatever they need most.
After giving birth, moms also will receive $500 per month for their baby’s first year to cover formula, diapers, childcare and other expenses.
The project is estimated to cost $55 million over five years. In April, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation committed a $15 million challenge grant. Further support has come from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Hurley Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, and the Jamie and Denise Jacob Family Foundation. With over $34 million raised to date, the program aims to start in 2024.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the state’s budget into law July 30, including a line item of $16.5 million for Rx Kids.
Monday’s meeting lasted an hour and half with only six council members present. In August council had banned Councilperson Eric Mays (Ward 1) for 30 days for unruly behavior. He will be able to return the first week of September. Councilpersons Ladel Lewis (Ward 2) and Jerri Winfrey-Carter (Ward 5) were also not present for Monday’s meeting.
Berston Field House announces $30 million capital campaign
Interim Director of the Berston Field House Valorie Horton presented to the council a new capital campaign program. Berston is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Horton was appointed interim director after the untimely passing of the previous director, Brian “BB” Nolden who died suddenly in December, 2022 at the age of 57. Nolden served as Berston’s director since 2014.
“Berston Field House is embarking on a capital campaign to reimagine its future. Renovation of the existing facility and creation of an all-new, state-of-the-art gymnasium will allow for expanded services,” Horton told the council.
“The renovations will include new sports fields, access to fresh fruits and vegetables through partnerships with community gardens, serving as a Genesee County Senior Center, engaging with entrepreneurial service providers to support economic development, and partnering with local health care providers for access to physical and mental health and wellness services,” she said.
“The current field house will be completely remodeled to provide dedicated spaces for a boxing gym, art and usic rooms, dance studios, a bike room, locker rooms, meeting spaces and a large community room. Recently acquired land surrounding Berston will feature all-new outdoor basketball and pickleball courts, a softball diamond, and football/soccer/lacrosse fields. An amphitheater for outdoor performances and a children’s spalshpad, a new children’s playground and new parking lots are planned,” according to a pamphlet describing the capital campaign,” Horton said.
The new Berston Field House project has a budget of $30 million, which includes all site improvements, existing building remodeling, construction of a new gymnasium, furniture, equipment, and technology. More than $11 million has already been raised, according to Horton.
The present Berston Field House was built in 1923 on land donated by Flint developer and philanthropist Neil J. Berston. The field house is located at 3300 N. Saginaw Street in Flint.
Photos, renderings and more information can be found at berstonnext.org.
Next council meeting
The city council will meet in committee on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. at the Genesee County Commissioner’s board room in the county building.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org