The Phoenix City Council Subcommittee for Sustainability, Housing, Efficiency, and Neighborhoods unanimously approved the city’s plan for using the nearly $15 million Community Development Block Grant.
For the first time, the city will use the grant to help provide nutrition in areas of Phoenix dedicated as food deserts, and to aid in the fight of human trafficking. Spencer Self deputy director of the Phoenix’s neighborhood services department, “we’re very excited,” about these two new categories going forward.
The plan also sets aside more than $150,000 to fight human trafficking in part by buying Phoenix Starfish Place, a facility that provides 15 units of mixed family housing for recovering victims of human trafficking. Self said, “a wonderful … facility that will be able to provide services for human trafficking victims.
In addition to the housing facility the plan recommends giving money to StreetlightUSA’s human trafficking restorative program and the Sojourner Center.
StreetlightsUSA, provides immediate aid to victims of human trafficking, by giving them food, shelter, hygiene kits and clothing, as well as long term aid in the form of career counseling and training.
The Sojourner Center has a program to provide case managers for human trafficking victims seeking to leave their abusive relationships.
District 8 City Councilwomen and Chair of the subcommittee, Kate Gallego said, “It really shows our community priorities when we are looking to fight domestic violence.”
The new plan also recommends giving nearly $78,000 charities that provide nutrition for food deserts. The money will be split between, Unlimited Potential Inc., ICM Food & Clothing bank and Fresh Express by Discovery Triangle.
There were doubts when the first federal budget was proposed whether the block grant program would continue.
Self said, “The city of Phoenix has received federal formula grants for 43, however this year has presented some unique challenges with the new federal administration valuing the impact of these fund less than in the past.
Gallego said, “I personally was very disappointed when the federal budget proposed eliminating it.” She added, “we have nonprofits in our community that are doing such great work it is an honor for
us to support that.”
District 3 Councilwoman, Debra Stark, “Said this is great work… and it is really reflective of the importance of nonprofits and working with them.”
In addition of the aid for human trafficking victims and providing nutrition in Phoenix food deserts the plan recommends the city spend nearly $1 million of the $15 million block grant toward nonprofit services, including those for youth, elderly and disabled persons services.