A $1 million Department of Justice, (DOJ) grant for crime and violence reduction measures in Newhallville has been accepted by the Board of Alders, but like the Joint Human Services and Safety Committee that sent it there, the body attached some conditions.
The Board voted on the proposal at its January 20 meeting.
Acceptance of the Byrne Justice Grant will come with the addition of five amendments aimed at addressing concerns as to how the money will be utilized and how much input residents and Alders from the Newhallville neighborhood itself will have throughout the three years of DOJ funding.
“We added the amendments because we have doubts,” said Alder Brenda Foskey Cyrus during a phone conversation the morning after the meeting.
Foskey Cyrus also sits on the Joint Human Services and Safety Committee. She voiced some of those doubts at a public hearing it held a few weeks ago, and she wasn’t alone-Alders Brian Wingate, Delphine Clyburn, Jeanette Morrison, and other members expressed concern over what they said appeared to be a limited amount of funding directed toward community programs. At the time, $550,000 was budgeted for a combination of personnel salaries and community policing.
Director of Youth Services Jason Bartlett presented the tentative budget at the hearing, but said it was a draft that was prepared in order to allow the city to meet the grant application deadline. Therefore the figures, he said at that meeting, are not set in stone.
Bartlett has emphasized what he feels is a need for collaboration and dialogue between Newhallville residents, officials, and organizations in the use of the funding, but the Alders added their amendments to ensure it.
The first condition was that the selection committee that will be established for the hiring of personnel include Newhallville Alders, as well as the chair of the neighborhood management committee.
“Our biggest concern is the project coordinator,” Foskey Cyrus said. “You can’t just [for example] bring you in and say you’re going to be the project coordinator-you don’t know Newhallville.”
As of now, however, that position has been filled. John Kringen, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven, was a $173,000 line item when Bartlett presented his budget draft at the joint committee meeting.
Could the Alders feasibly push to have that changed?
“Anything’s possible,” Foskey-Cyrus said.
The second amendment focuses on funding for youth programs-that was an $82,000 line item in Bartlett’s budget draft, but the Alders would like to see more money go in that direction.
“We want to continue to support the programs we already have in Newhallville, and maybe support some more,” Foskey-Cyrus said.
As of now, $2,000 is budgeted for year 1 of the grant-the number is low because it isn’t a full year-with $40,000 for that purpose in each of the two years after.
At a community meeting held the week before at King Robinson Inter-District Magnet School, a slew of organizations that included New Haven Family Alliance’s Street Outreach Program and Youth at Work outlined their efforts and asked that part of the grant be directed toward providing them with additional support.
So the Alders added their third amendment, which stipulates that lapse funding-or money left over in other categories such as personnel-be allocated toward community programs, particularly those focused on job opportunities and helping neighborhood youth.
“We have a lot of good programs in this neighborhood,” Foskey Cyrus said. “For them to take on a bigger load, we have to give them bigger funding.”
The fourth condition mandates that the project coordinator meet with Newhallville Alders, the Chair of the community management team, and co-chairs from the neighborhood’s three wards, on a quarterly basis.
And the fifth is the establishment of a subcommittee to work with “at-risk youth and women”.
“We have a lot of youth here at risk,” Foskey-Cyrus said. “There are some gang members in this community. And when we say women, there are a lot of women in the neighborhood that have the title of being a mother, but at the end of the day, they actually need mothering skills. That will improve the quality of life.”
In past meetings Bartlett has stressed the core objectives of the grant-the reduction of crime in “hot spot” areas through community policing and youth “engagement” as well as fixes to what he described as deterioration of infrastructure in the neighborhood. There has been talk of adding security cameras and addressing “blight” in the community.
As of the 2010 Census, unemployment in Newhallville was at 21 percent. Members of the public who spoke at the Joint Committee meeting link that to crime-such as the 11 homicides that have occurred in the neighborhood since 2011-but Bartlett has admitted that the DOJ funding is not designed to “solve all the problems” but “bring people together” in a dialogue on how to start that process.