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Revised CDBG budget cuts out several community programs

ELKHART, Ind. --  A revised version the Community Development Block Grant budget for 2017 passed through the finance committee on Monday.

The new budget cuts funding for four programs that typically get a piece of the pot.

The Council On Aging of Elkhart County typically receives $10,000. The money allows them to offer free transportation for seniors in the city.

“When people start to age, we begin to not be able to do certain things. When you have health issues then it holds you back even more so you don’t feel comfortable to drive or you can’t afford it,” says CEO David Toney.

Their transportation service is used throughout the county to take people to things like doctor’s visits and the grocery store. The cost depends on a number of factors, but for those in Elkhart City it has been free because of the CDBG money.

Toney says without the grant money, those free trips just won’t be possible. Over four hundred trips were already scheduled for this year.

Susan Lanning, a life-long Elkhart resident, says cutting programs that help seniors isn’t the right thing to do. Her father, Kerry, used the programs offered at The Council On Aging.

“It’s disappointing. Living is hard enough for people day to day especially with the senior population. Why not give what you can and help?” says Lanning.

But, not all of the council is on board with the cuts. Councilman Dwight Fish advocated for The Council On Aging at Tuesday’s public hearing during the Redevelopment Commission Meeting.

“This is about quality of life. This is about the city with a heart. I’ve gotta sleep at night and I have to know this money is going to be earmarked in the right areas,” says Figh.

Fish says he plans to continue working to get the program their funding another way.

“What I’d like this council to do is to be on record to say ‘Okay, we’re cutting it out of block grant money but then we turn around and assist them for the $10,000 they requested down the road in August or September to make sure they get that money that’s been promised to them,’” says Fish.

Three other programs were cut from the budget. The Minority Health Coalition’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Program. They shared with us two weeks ago how the cut could affect them.

A neighborhood revitalization façade program was also cut as well as money to go towards fair housing counseling.

The revised version will go before the city council for a vote at the end of July.

Fearing the loss of funding will put an end to the free transportation service, The Council On Aging is accepting community donations here.

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