Bloomington committee makes first round of rejections for record-breaking social services funding requests, federal COVID-19 relief funds could be tapped

Annotated R Bar Chart History of Jack Hopkins Funding 2020 Apps

On Monday night, a committee made up of four city councilmembers and two Bloomington residents met to review requests for funding from 37 social services groups.

On Monday, the Jack Hopkins social services funding committee rejected seven of the applications outright, for various reasons. But a significant gap remains between the $640,493 in requests that are still being considered and the $319,000 in funding that’s available this year.

Mentioned at Monday’s meeting as a possibility for some rejected project proposals, or those that are given only partial awards, is funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money is being awarded through the existing Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to cities across the country.

For Bloomington, the amount being allocated by CARES through the CDBG program is $525,656, according to Doris Sims, director of the city’s housing and neighborhood development department.

Sims told The Square Beacon that Bloomington is still waiting to hear the specifics about when the city will receive the funding and what conditions will apply to it. CDBG funds generally have to be used to meet one of the three objectives: benefit low- to moderate-income people; prevent or eliminate blight; or meet a particularly urgent need.

According to Sims, even though the COVID-19 pandemic is considered an urgent need, any project funded by CARES has to serve 70 percent or more of the population who meet the low-to-moderate income guideline. Also, any CARES-funded project has to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sims attended Monday’s Jack Hopkins committee meeting.

Different this year for the annual review by the Jack Hopkins committee was the use of the Zoom video-conferencing platform for Monday night’s meeting. Generally, public meetings of local government groups have relied on such teleconferencing platforms, due to measures that have been enacted to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Also different this year was the cancelation of public presentations of their projects by the 37 applicants—also due to emergency orders from the governor to mitigate COVID-19 infection. One of the orders has limited gatherings to groups no larger than 10 people.

Staying the same as past years was the gap between the available funding and the amount of requests.

This year, requests totaled $822,971, compared to $319,000 available this year. The available funding assumes $311,000 from the general fund that’s included in the 2020 budget, plus $8,114 that reverted from last year’s unused Jack Hopkins funds.

This year’s total of requests was the most of any year to date, 23 percent higher than last year’s $667,394. The increased amount can be chalked up in part to the impact of COVID-19 on social service agencies. In the 899-page packet of applications, the word “COVID” appears 202 times.

Applications were rejected for a few different reasons. Some were incomplete— failure to include a project budget in the application was enough to doom an application. Others might have had a shot in a different year, if it weren’t for the committee’s more narrow focus this year on programs that support food, shelter, child care, and personal health and safety.

Those are the same areas of focus for a social services working working group that the city’s mayor, John Hamilton, has set up help define the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other working group the mayor has established focuses on economic stabilization and recovery.

Beverly Calender-Anderson, director of community and family resources for the city, heads up the social services working group. She attended Monday’s Jack Hopkins committee application review.

The seven rejected applications totaled $182,477, leaving $640,493 in requests that still have to be decided by the committee.

A next step for applicants who are still in the mix will be to respond to specific questions from the committee that were asked during Monday’s meeting. Many of the questions related to the way partial funding might be awarded by the committee.

For individual committee members, recommendations for allocations are due by noon on May 18. A pre-allocation committee meeting is scheduled for May 21, which the allocation hearing set of May 26.

The basic criteria for Jack Hopkins social services funding were first written down in a 1993 letter  by councilmember Jack Hopkins, after whom the fund was named. The resolution that named the fund after Hopkins, who was a professor at the Indiana University’s public and environmental affairs, was approved by the city council in 2002, the month after Hopkins died.

2020 Jack Hopkins Social Services Funding Requests (*Eliminated May 4, 2020)

Agency Amount
Pantry 279 $88,000
*El Shadday and I, Inc $62,829
Centerstone $44,750
*Human Delta (South Bend Code School) $36,000
Amethyst House $34,500
Wheeler Mission $32,688
Shalom Center $32,434
Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County $30,760
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana $30,000
Hoosier Hills Food Bank $30,000
*Safe Families for Children in Monroe County $30,000
New Hope for Families $25,000
South Central Community Action Program $25,000
Monroe County United Ministries $24,229
Boys & Girls Club $24,000
Catholic Charities Bloomington $22,666
New Hope for Families and Catholic Charities $20,273
HealthNet Bloomington Health Center $19,590
Made up Mind, Inc $18,900
Life Designs $16,813
New Leaf – New Life $15,747
*American Red Cross of Southeast Indiana $15,000
*City Church for All Nations $15,000
*Foundation of the Monroe County Community Schools $15,000
St Vincent dePaul Society $15,000
All Options Pregnancy Resource Center $12,000
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky $11,134
El Centro Comunal Latino $10,000
Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard $10,000
Monroe County CASA $9,637
*Monroe County Health Department $8,649
Community Kitchen of Monroe County $8,113
Meals of Wheels $7,260
Bloomington Cooperative Living Inc $7,000
Courage to Change Sober Living $6,000
Middle Way House $6,000
Artisan Alley $3,000
Total $822,971