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Tri-City Community Action gets stimulus boost to help the poor

Posted by Marcia Dick  August 19, 2009 10:15 AM

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The federal stimulus law is giving area antipoverty agencies a major infusion of funds to assist low-income residents with housing, health care, nutrition, and other needs.

‘‘It’s been good news for community action programs,’’ said Philip Bronder-Giroux, executive director of Tri-City Community Action Program, which serves Everett, Malden, and Medford. ‘‘While state funding has really been under severe constraints, the stimulus money has given us new life.’’

With American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, ‘‘we are doing programs that are now possible that we always wanted to do and never could have dreamt of doing,’’ Bronder-Giroux said, adding that the funding is also creating jobs, a key intent of the law.

Robert S. Repucci, executive director of Community Action Programs Inter-City, called the stimulus money a ‘‘godsend’’ for his agency, whose core service area is Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. ‘‘It’s really making up for a lot of the reductions we saw on the state level.’’

As with other allocations of stimulus money, the funding flowing to antipoverty agencies comes with a hitch: It is designed to be used within 15 months or three years.

But agency officials said the money is no less welcome and express the hope they will find ways to continue any newly created programs and jobs once the stimulus funds run out.

The money allocated to Tri-City Community Action includes $668,000 in federal Community Services Block Grant funds. Bronder-Giroux said the money comes on top of the regular $630,000 annual allotment the agency received through the program last fall.

Bronder-Giroux said Tri-CAP is creating a housing resource center that will help people at risk of homelessness stabilize their housing situations.

Tri-CAP also will use the money to hire a program coordinator for its Malden Square cyber café, and to enable a local food program to supply meals to 103 homeless families living in Route 99 hotels and motels.

The agency also is using the money to enable Everett to retain three English as a Second Language classes; to initiate a youth employment training program; and to extend into Medford its summer lunch program for low-income children.

In addition, Medford has awarded Tri-CAP $400,000 in stimulus money it received through the Community Development Block Grant program. The money will help Medford residents facing homelessness.

Community Action Programs Inter-City also was allotted $500,000 in stimulus money, Repucci said.

Part will be used to restore four of seven jobs in the agency’s homelessness prevention program. The funding also will be used to help 120 unemployed residents secure jobs.

Through stimulus money awarded to it by the North Shore Workforce Investment Board, the agency was able to expand its summer youth program and plans to initiate a program this fall to help Peabody youths whose first language is not English to find jobs that bolster their English skills.

Beth Hogan, director of Peabody-based North Shore Community Action Programs, estimated the stimulus fund will create 11 to 14 jobs at her agency, and support the formation of other jobs through employment assistance.

‘‘We’re thrilled to be part of the economic recovery,’’ she said.

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