By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor
In late December Congress passed a federal funding bill which included $39 million that Rep. Marcy Kaptur secured for 15 community-led projects in her congressional district. President Biden signed the omnibus appropriations bill into law before the close of 2022.
“Through the collaborative work of Republicans and Democrats, Congress is responsibly delivering critical investments in the services and programs people depend on,” said Kaptur.
Four of the 15 projects will directly impact the Junction-Englewood neighborhoods with $13.5 million of the $39 million total designated for that area.
Among the local groups receiving funding are: LISC and the Toledo Urban Foundation, the City of Toledo for Englewood-Junction Workforce Development Training Center – Neighborhood Revitalization; Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation; Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity (all four are projects in the Englewood-Junction neighborhood). Also of note, the Neighborhood Health Association and Toledo Tomorrow will receive funds to expand their services.
LISC and the Toledo Urban Foundation, the non-profit organization of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, will receive $3 million to build additional space at for credit union on the northwest corner of Dorr and Detroit which will include a resource center for the neighborhood and increased access to financial products, services and education.
The $3 million, noted Suzette Cowell, CEO of TUFCU, is a much-needed start in raising funds for the project. Fundraising, however, will continue because the project will need nearly $7 million to complete.
“We are grateful and really excited,” she stated noting that a meeting with government officials on January 9 will clarify the process for moving forward.
The City of Toledo will receive $4 million for a Workforce Development Training Center at the current Swayne Field location – the site of the former grocery store – and also for construction and preservation of affordable housing in the neighborhood. The City will use half the funds for each portion of the project, $2 million for the Swayne Field Center and $2 million for housing, says Tiffanie McNair, City of Toledo housing commissioner.
The Lucas County Land Bank – its Land Reutilization Corporation – will receive $4 million to redevelop the vacant St. Anthony’s Church at Junction and Nebraska into a community space.
The Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity & Toledo Design Collective are to receive $2.5 million for the construction and preservation of homes in both the Junction and East Toledo neighborhoods. These funds will support the commitment that Habitat for Humanity had already made to build 15 houses in the Junction community. The organization broke ground for the first two homes this past fall.
“[The funds are] a boost to the economy and to the morale and spirit of those who have gone through trauma and COVID,” said Alicia Smith, director of the Junction Coalition, while giving special thanks to Kaptur and her efforts to secure the funds for the central city neighborhood. “I’m very thankful to our wonderful congresswoman for her investment of time. She is a great public servant who understands our needs and the disparities.”
Smith also praised the efforts of the neighborhood residents themselves who have continually applied pressure on the various organizations to do what is best for the area. “The people did the hard work going into the boardrooms and telling them ‘you are not helping us well enough.’”
Now, said Smith, local and state governments need to step up and replicate the commitments of the federal government. “We will be able to capitalize on those efforts by doubling it up.”
Smith also emphasizes the future need to monitor how the funds are spent. “We need a matrix of evaluation to watch that money,” she said, “so that we aim it to the people.”
Two other organizations receiving funds that will have a significant impact on the residents of the Junction Englewood neighborhoods, as well as neighborhoods throughout the city, are the Neighborhood Health Association and Toledo Tomorrow.
NHA will receive $1 million to assist in building a downtown community pharmacy. The pharmacy will provide residents – especially the uninsured and the underinsured – medication in an accessible location. The pharmacy, said Doni Miller, NHA CEO, “will be modeled after the apothecaries of the 1800s, plus a soda fountain” within its throwback décor.
Toledo Tomorrow, founded about five years ago, is a non-profit that works with city public school students in furthering their post-secondary education. The group connects students with scholarship information and admission procedures.
Recent graduates, said Director Bob Savage, Jr., “have received full rides to the University of Toledo, The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve and Bowling Green State University, among others.”
During their time, he said, “Toledo Public School graduates going to regional four-year colleges has increased over 25 percent.”
The $1.1 million the nonprofit will receive will enable it to “bolster what we are doing,” said Savage.
In addition to the $13.5 million that will directly impact the Toledo central city, other funding projects within Kaptur’s 9th Congressional District include: $1.25 million to the Toledo Police Department for enhanced portable radio equipment;$1.1 million to the Center for Innovative Food Technology for smart kitchen entrepreneurial training; $2.5 million to the Lucas County Commissioners to provide a sanitary sewer system in unsewered areas of Curtice-Williston; $3.45 million to the City of Port Clinton for sewer and waterline improvements; $3.4 million to the Sandusky State Theatre for restoration; $3 million to the Ohio Aerospace Institute and the University of Toledo for hydrogen academic programs; $6.9 million to UT for health sciences bioresearch lab.
“We’re investing in education, infrastructure and energy; improving healthcare and housing, expanding care for veterans and pay for service members and helping create good-paying jobs for hardworking Americans,” said Kaptur last week after Congress had passed the legislation.