Monday, the City of Winston-Salem issued a press release summarizing the COVID-19 Fund grants that our tax dollars were being spent on. The City also released a video of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee meeting. The Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee fell short of the six reasonable demands that my comrades at Housing Justice made last month.
I was struck by the emphasis that was put on addressing food insecurity and the lack of attention on housing insecurity. As Wesley Young pointed out in the Journal, the largest single grant, of $100,000, went to the Forsyth Backpack Program. Those backpacks will come in handy when working-class families are evicted from their homes in the coming months. Experts are predicting a surge of evictions in the coming months some are calling it a potential eviction tsunami and the City’s COVID-19 isn’t doing much address the looming crisis.
The private sector has failed. The City of Winston-Salem needs to recommit to developing truly affordable housing and preserving the public housing units that are left. That means subsidizing Crystal Towers and potentially using bonds to modernize historic Crystal Towers and Sunrise Towers. Social housing is another approach to affordable housing that Winston should strongly consider. Grants are fine, but a housing-first approach is best.
City of Winston-Salem Press Release:
City Manager’s Office
April 27, 2020
Twenty-three local agencies and other non-profit groups were selected to receive grants from the city’s portion of the COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County.
The largest single grant, of $100,000, went to the Forsyth Backpack Program, which provides weekend meals for hungry children & teens. Grants of $75,000 each were approved for Love Out Loud, the School Health Alliance for Forsyth County and Trellis Supportive Care.
Grants of $50,000 were awarded to Christ Rescue Temple Church, S.G. Atkins Community Development Corp., Care Net Counseling, Nueva Vida and the Exchange Club for the Prevention of Child Abuse of North Carolina. Grants of lesser amounts were approved for 14 other organizations.
The Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee reviewed 42 grant applications Friday to determine how to disburse the $1 million the city contributed to the response fund. The fund has raised more than $3.6 million, including the city’s contribution, to make one-time grants to local organizations that assist those economically impacted by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The fund is being administered by the United Way and the Winston-Salem Foundation. The city set up a separate process for awarding grants from its $1 million to ensure transparency and citizen input on how the city money is allocated.
A video of Friday’s meeting at which the grant requests were determined is posted under the COVID19 Response Fund link at CityofWS.org/COVID19.
More information about the fund is posted at COVID19Forsyth.org, including answers to frequently asked questions about the fund, its priorities and the grant-making process. A list of grants funded to date through the response fund is posted at www.wsfoundation.org/covid-19-grantees.
The following is the complete list of organizations approved by the city to receive grants, and how they will use the money:
Forsyth Backpack Program – $100,000 to purchase pre-packaged “backpacks” containing four shelf-stable, kid-friendly weekend meals to all children coming to select schools for grab-n-go meals provided by the WS/FCS system.
Love Out Loud – $75,000 to provide 10,000-12,000 “gap” meals to families and homebound adults, contracting with local restaurants, caterers, and food trucks; to support the efforts of Project Mask WS.
School Health Alliance for Forsyth County – $75,000 to continue to operate Comprehensive School-Based Health Center sites, including Ashley Academy and Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy; to expand alliance services to children served by Imprints Cares’ child-care programs for children of essential personnel.
Trellis Supportive Care – $75,000 to provide personal protective equipment to patient care staff in order to continue to provide hospice and palliative care to patients, including those without health insurance.
Christ Rescue Temple Church – $50,000 to expand its “People Helping People” feeding program to serve seniors, homeless families, healthcare workers, daycare workers, and people of color from low socio-economic communities.
S.G. Atkins Community Development Corp. – $50,000 to operate the Enterprise Center’s shared-use kitchen to prepare and distribute 600 free meals per week to the community from May through August 2020, with labor provided by hospitality/food industry workers who have lost their incomes and businesses due to COVID-19.
Exchange Club Center For The Prevention Of Child Abuse of North Carolina, Inc. – $50,000 to offer financial assistance to families receiving support through the Welcome Baby and Parent Aide programs and to increase the organization’s capacity to assess families’ needs.
CareNet Counseling – $50,000 to provide increased financial assistance for mental health counseling for the uninsured and under-insured.
Nueva Vida/New Life – $50,000 to provide daily meals to underprivileged neighborhoods such as Skyline Village and Aster Park and to provide assistance with paying for prescription medicines, rent, and utilities.
St. Peter’s We Care House – $49,700 to meet the increased demand for food assistance and to the close the gap in increased requests for basic personal items such as toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
Grace Presbyterian Church, USA – $45,320 to expand the capacity of the Healthy Eating and JRAMS programs to provide food assistance and youth engagement in the LaDeara Crest and Carver High School community.
Siembra NC – $41,550 to provide financial assistance to immigrant families ineligible for COVID-19 relief funds, to translate information about services and COVID-19 issues, and to fund additional broadcast campaigns through the organization’s Spanish-language text alert broadcast system.
Diaper Bank of North Carolina – $40,000 to purchase hygiene products to be distributed specifically to families in Forsyth County via the organization’s community partnerships.
Great Commission Community Church – $40,000 to provide meals to the homeless at the Bethesda Center, weekday meals to the community, and groceries to feed families during the weekend.
St. Paul United Methodist Church – $35,000 to increase the church’s capacity to assist with food delivery, to provide handwashing stations at their food pantry, to purchase materials for and distribute masks, and to increase grief care outreach.
Mental Health Association of Forsyth County – $35,000 to provide mental health support services through support groups, short-term counseling, information and referral follow-ups, and community education and outreach.
Hope Connection International Inc. – $30,000 to provide increased financial assistance to victims of domestic violence, including rent assistance, utilities, transportation, and career and personal needs.
Sinai Community Development Corp. – $30,000 to expand the organization’s free meal distribution program for the East Winston community to provide special service hours for seniors, delivery to disabled/homebound residents provided through referral agencies, and prepared meals and delivery to healthcare professionals.
Solus Christus – $20,000 to meet the anticipated increasing needs of women experiencing homelessness, trauma, and addiction to include emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.
Journee Bees Village – $20,000 to provide emergency assistance for rent, mortgage, utilities, transportation, food, and cleaning and hygiene products for individuals experiencing a loss of household income due to COVID-19.
Hope To Thrive – $15,000 to address toxic stress exacerbated by COVID-19 by providing the immediate needs of food, shelter, and sanitation needs of seniors, undocumented immigrants, and African American and low income neighborhoods mainly in East and South Winston from May through August 2020.
Iglesia luz de jesucristo INC – $13,430 to continue to offer clothing, food, counseling, and financial support for the Hispanic community.
Acción Hispana – $10,000 to increase the dissemination of information about assistance to the Hispanic community.
It left me, as a few of them [applications] did with the impression, “Oh, the city has got some money, the foundation, whoever-I’m going to fill out this form and get it.”
-comment by a member of the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee
Long meeting. While I’m not thrilled that the City of Winston-Salem is funding St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s, I don’t think public dollars should support religious institutions. But at least they aren’t funding Piedmont University!