Tag: funding

Muskegon, Marquette, Grand Traverse counties win big in state outdoor recreation funding

Michigan’s outdoor recreation is expected to get a boost of nearly $37.8 million in 2021, and Muskegon County is the biggest winner of funds with a single grant for $5 million.

Marquette, Grand Traverse and Ottawa counties are also raking in big bucks from the state for recreation development and land acquisition. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board this week recommended grants totaling $37,789,600 for 76 recreation projects and land acquisitions with the goal of further access to public outdoor recreation.

Muskegon County is a clear winner this year with a $5 million grant to acquire a former sand mining property for park development. Ottawa County is in line to receive nearly $1.5 million for five different projects. Park improvements and lakefront property acquisition are on deck in Grand Traverse County with nearly $1.2 million in state funds coming their way. In Marquette County, over $700,000 will help build playgrounds and trails.

RELATED: Former Nugent Sand property eyed for park development by Muskegon County

“Easy access to the beauty of Michigan’s natural places and open spaces during a challenging, uncertain year has been a source of comfort and connection for residents across our state, and the Trust Fund is a major part of making those opportunities available,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

Trails, parks and the state’s forest lands – often developed or acquired with Trust Fund grants – and other “outdoor recreation resources like these are big contributors to each community’s quality of life and unique appeal,” Whitmer said.

This year, the board recommended $27,289,600 for 30 acquisition grants and $10.5 million for 46 development grants. Most of the funding is going to local governments while eight grants worth about $7.7 million will back Michigan Department of Natural Resources projects.

Development grants are expected to fund projects in Antrim, Benzie, Berrien, Calhoun, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Eaton, Genesee, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Huron, Ingham, Iosco, Jackson, Kent, Leelenau, Livingston, Mackinac, Marquette, Newaygo, Oakland, Oceana, Ottawa, Saginaw, St. Clair, St. Joseph, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Find out what’s coming to your county here.

Land acquisition grants are expected to fund projects in Benzie, Berrien, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Delta, Dickinson, Eaton, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Huron, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lake, Lapeer, Lenawee, Macomb, Midland, Muskegon, Oakland, Ontoganon, Ottawa, Saginaw and St. Clair counties. Find out what’s coming to your county here.

This year’s projects “will make a real difference,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger, noting the overwhelming success of Proposal 1 on the November ballot as proof of Michiganders’ support for the grant program.

RELATED: Both Michigan ballot proposals on pace to pass by record margins

Established in 1976, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund aimed at public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest and revenue from state-owned oil, gas and minerals. To date, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1.2 billion to state and local governments

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Western Maine tourism, recreation get a funding boost

FRYEBURG — The federal government is making an investment in the tourism and recreation industries in western Maine, an area popular with hikers, campers and outdoor adventurers.

The University of Maine has received $286,800 to provide workforce training for the industries, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, said.

The money is through a partnership between the Northern Border Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Collins and King said in a statement that UMaine’s work “will preserve and protect western Maine’s rich history and beautiful landscapes by expanding workforce and professional development opportunities for Mainers.”


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Sacramento got state funding to turn a hotel into homeless housing. The project was nixed

A controversial plan to convert a River District hotel into housing for the homeless has been nixed.

Sacramento had scored funding from a competitive state program called Project Homekey to convert the Hawthorn Suites into 100 units of homeless housing in a part of the city where the homeless crisis is dire.

Since the location was announced, the city has been hit with two lawsuits trying to block the project – one by the developer of luxury apartments across the street and one from an organization that represents businesses in the area.

But the lawsuits did not kill the project, said Jeree Glasser, Jamboree Housing’s vice president of Northern California.

“This was purely an appraisal issue,” Glasser said.

Jamboree, an affordable housing developer, had signed a purchase agreement for the property, Glasser said. But then the state required an appraisal, which came back at a lower amount than one that was done prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The seller wanted to sell for the higher price, but the state’s rules prohibited Jamboree from paying more than the appraised value, Glasser said.

The hotel owner, Calabasas-based the Ezralow Co., did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The news will mean at least one of the two lawsuits will be dropped.

“I don’t think there would be any other reason to continue the lawsuit from my perspective,” said Anthony Scotch, a representative for the 500 Bercut LLC group, which sued the city in September. The lawsuit claimed that with the project, the city was going back out on its promise to stop placing homeless services in the River District, hurting the area’s revitalization efforts.

The homeless project would have stalled efforts to attract investors for a 250-unit high-end apartment complex planned to be built next to the American River levee on Bercut Drive, just east of Interstate 5 on the former Rusty Duck and Hungry Hunter restaurant sites, Scotch has said. The Hawthorn Suites sits across the street from that site.

It’s unclear if the news will cause the River District to drop its lawsuit, which it filed earlier this month against the city, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Jamboree Housing and several state agencies.

River District board executive director Jenna Abbott did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

That lawsuit claims local officials were planning to improperly use federal coronavirus stimulus funds to help fund the project, which would have provided permanent homeless housing for about 55 years.

The city and SHRA declined comment on the River District lawsuit because they have not yet been served with it, spokespeople said.

The city was planning to use about $9 million in CARES funds for the project, which can now be used for other items before the end of the year, said Mary Lynne Vellinga, Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s spokeswoman. Reallocation of those funds would need City Council approval.

Bob Erlenbusch of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness called the news “a tragedy for our unhoused neighbors.”

“To have

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Seattle Wants to Buy a Hotel to Shelter the Homeless, But Funding Remains Murky – Slog

Andrew Lewis thinks leasing hotel rooms is so yesterday.

Andrew Lewis thinks leasing hotel rooms is so yesterday. SHITTY SCREENSHOT OF THE SEATTLE CHANNEL

Some Seattle City Council members want to buy a hotel to shelter the homeless and then turn that hotel into affordable housing units once the pandemic is over.

To that end, Councilmember Andrew Lewis sponsored a budget proviso that would take $2.5 million from the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program for homelessness assistance to buy a 100-room hotel. But, buying a hotel is a bit more complicated than it sounds at first blush.

Sponsored

According to Lewis and Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who brought forward a similar proposal last week but who is now co-sponsoring this proviso, homeless providers came to them with this idea, and they have already identified potential hotels to buy. The tricky part: though the $2.5 million would potentially cover a down payment on a hotel, the hotel’s ultimate price and maintenance costs are unclear.

Complicating matters further is the fact that the $2.5 million proviso money would come out of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s budget plan to lease 300 hotel rooms during the pandemic. Durkan plans to lease those rooms for 10 months, using $15 million from ESG and CARES Act money. Lewis wants the city to buy one-third of those rooms to “take full advantage of temporary money” for a “permanent solution.”

The council is faced with a dilemma. Should they use the money to pursue hotelling as a long-term solution, or should they only use hotelling in the short-term?

“Hotelling,” as the people are calling it, has been a popular and successful pandemic shelter solution.

According to a KOMO report, “researchers found fewer clusters and outbreaks of COVID-19 among individuals who stayed in hotels than among those who remained in traditional, large-group shelter settings.”

On Friday I asked King County how many COVID-19 cases public health officials recorded from hotel shelters. A spokesperson told me they’re still working on it, so I’ll update this post when I hear back. But in the meantime, since the pandemic began, the Washington State Department of Health recorded 12 outbreaks across homeless shelters. However, in the last week, the DOH reported no outbreaks in homeless communities.

Hotel rooms have been effective at getting people off the streets and into individual rooms. Part of that is hotelling is more attractive than normal shelter options, as the Seattle Times reported, because it “houses people before asking them to get an income or agree to change their behavior.”

Leasing hotel rooms does cost money, of course. King County leased four entire hotels and motels this year. As of mid-September, leasing and operating those hotels cost $12 million, with over $4.5 million spent on rent alone, according to KOMO News. Federal CARES Act funds will cover most of those costs.

Seattle dabbled in hotelling as well, albeit less successfully. As PubliCola reported, the city blew through $3 million of federal funding in one month of a three-month lease on the 155-room Executive Hotel Pacific downtown. That space was

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Federal hotel funding extended for fire survivors in Santa Cruz County

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — Federal Emergency Management Agency hotel funding that was set to expire Monday, will be automatically extended for more than 250 CZU August Lightning Complex fire survivors until Nov. 2.

As of Tuesday, the FEMA funding is covering the cost of 138 hotel rooms for fire refugees in Santa Cruz County. Those survivors have struggled to find more permanent housing, but would have been forced to, if the extension had not gone through.

The California Office of Emergency Services worked with FEMA to extend the hotel funding, according to county communications manager Jason Hoppin.

“We’ve been working very hard on an independent level with enrollees to find an alternative with them,” Hoppin said. “The easiest alternative is to just extend the program, which is good news for us and them. For most of these people this will be a one month extension while they work on next steps.”

Fire refugees utilizing the program have the option to extend their hotel stay up to Nov. 24.

For those survivors that wish to stay enrolled in the program, Hoppin said, they must apply for disaster assistance through FEMA. That means residents must supply eligibility documents and personal information to get an extension.

There’s been challenges obtaining that information from some enrollees, according to Hoppin.

“For some people we have not been able to determine if they’re eligible because they’re not sharing their information with us,” he said.

In some cases that’s because residents lost their possessions in the fire. Others are fearful to enroll because of mistrust of government, and in a few isolated cases, Hoppin said, there may be people fraudulently enrolled.

“When you’re dealing with someone that presents to you as fire survivor…it is difficult to demand paperwork to prove everything they’re telling you because of the nature of the situation,” Hoppin said. “It’s pretty clear the program is for survivors and not anyone else so we want to make sure the resources are going to people who need it.”

“There is a set criteria and qualifying process for FEMA funded shelters and hotels,” said FEMA spokeswoman BrianaSummer Fenton. “That includes registering with FEMA and describing disaster-caused damages and losses, as well as supplying your social security number, proof of address and occupancy of a damaged primary dwelling.”

The county urges enrollees that wish to stay in their hotel room past Nov. 2 to visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.

“It’s a relief,” said 3rd District Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty of the program extension. “It’s short term so we still have to help individuals find somewhere permanent, but it definitely takes a little bit of the pressure off.”

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Funding cutoff looms for those living on hotel vouchers during Covid-19

Pamela Williams, who is currently homeless, describes her experience living at the Holiday Inn in South Burlington in June. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Pamela Williams has been living at the South Burlington Holiday Inn since June. She said she’s been applying to jobs and searching for housing incessantly — but both are hard to come by in an economy decimated by Covid-19. 

Now, Williams and about 140 other Holiday Inn guests experiencing homelessness are faced with even more urgency to find their next opportunity for shelter as winter approaches. That’s because the federal funding deadline that is largely propping up Vermont’s expanded homeless hotel voucher system is set to expire Dec. 30. 

The deadline was presented by Paul Dragan, executive director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), at a press conference held at the Holiday Inn Tuesday morning in tandem with U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. 

“We’ve been talking to the state about extending, and I think the state only has a limited amount of funding too, and they’re looking at all their possibilities as well,” Dragon said. “They’re aware and they want to be as helpful as possible.” 

If another federal stimulus package isn’t passed, with funding for homeless services and shelters, Dragon said his office will have to find another way to rehouse those currently living at the Holiday Inn. Hundreds of others experiencing homelessness are also being housed in other hotels and motels across the state. 

“The funding goes until the end of December,” Dragon said. “We’ll work with the state, which has been a wonderful partner, on a transition plan. And that means trying to find acceptable shelter for the folks who are here.”

Paul Dragon
Paul Dragon, executive director of Champlain Valley OEO. Courtesy photo

When the pandemic hit in March, shelters shuttered and the state rushed to expand its hotel voucher system to house those experiencing homlessness in individual hotel rooms to allow for social distancing and quarantining. The efforts have been effective — only one person experiencing homelessness has tested positive for Covid-19 in the state. 

As of mid-September, there were 374 adults and 52 children being housed in Burlington hotels. Across the state, there were about 1,100, down from about 2,000 at the beginning of the summer.

Welch congratulated CVOEO staff for the success the hotel voucher program has seen during Covid. He referenced the contentious $2 trillion stimulus package negotiations between U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which are moving forward, but slowly. 

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Welch said he supports a new stimulus package and that it should come soon. 

“It should be before the election because the pain is real and the need is urgent,” Welch said.

In the meantime, he said he would also support legislation that would extend the Dec. 30 deadline that demands that the first package of federal Covid stimulus money, of which Vermont received $1.25 billion, be spent by the end of the year. 

Peter Welch
Rep. Peter Welch at
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Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, other hotels ask Trump for funding

Few industries have been as hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic than the hospitality business, and now hotel executives are asking President Donald Trump for help.

In a new letter—signed by everyone from leaders at Hyatt, Marriott, Best Western, and Hilton to small, local hotel owners to trade groups—industry representatives request that he direct the U.S. Treasury Department to modify the rules of Main Street Lending Program, which the Federal Reserve created to help small and medium-size businesses that were in good financial shape before the coronavirus pandemic.

“To date, only a small fraction of $600 billion in available loans have been utilized while the remaining funds—which are so desperately needed by industries like ours—sit idle and go unused,” the letter reads.

Eighty-eight people signed the letter, which says the hotel industry supported 8.3 million jobs before the pandemic and contributed $660 billion-plus to the country’s GDP.

It also points out that 60% of hotels are small businesses and close to 50% are minority-owned. Because of the pandemic, 30% of hotel workers have been furloughed or laid off and according to American Hotel & Lodging Association research, more than two-thirds say that if the situation continues as is, they’ll be unable to last more than another six months.

“Mr. President, we believe you have the power to call for immediate modifications to the MSLP to increase participation and help thousands of businesses that have been crippled by the pandemic through no fault of their own,” the letter says.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed chairman Jerome Powell are CCed.

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Quebec boosts funding for sports, recreation organizations affected by pandemic

The Quebec government is pumping $70 million into sports and recreation across the province after public health measures put the brakes on most group activities last spring and again this fall in red zones.

Isabelle Charest, the province’s minister responsible for sports, said sports and recreation organizations have experienced a decline in membership, suspension of activities and cancelled events due to sanitary restrictions, but she doesn’t want those activities to stop altogether.

“This help is necessary,” said Charest during a Thursday press briefing.

“My goal is to provide the needed support so the population can continue to participate in sports and recreation activities outdoors.”

This financial contribution will allow provincial organizations to support their local clubs as well as their local and regional associations, the province says in a statement. 

The money will go toward leagues, groups and associations that provide organized activities.

The contribution includes:

  • $8-million increase in financial support for the operation of provincial, regional and local organizations.
  • Nearly $23 million invested in sports federations. 
  • More than $17 million invested in projects supporting physical activity, recreation sports and the outdoors.
  • $4.3 million to support sustainable transportation to and from recreational and sports activities; 
  • An increase of  $2 million to support  local and regional initiatives related to sports activities.
  • $2 million to support college and university sports.
  • More than $1.3 million dollars to promote the advancement of women and girls in sports and recreation. 

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“End your ENDLESS VACATION” and get Congress back to work on funding PPP

What? And leave the safety of her twin $12,000 freezers? Donald Trump has signaled over the last twenty-four hours that if Nancy Pelosi wants to play hardball over an issue of replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program from afar, he’s willing to play hardball, too. For the second day in a row, Trump demanded that Pelosi and Chuck Schumer bring Congress back into session and start dealing with the COVID-19 crisis in person.

The “ENDLESS VACATION” is a nice touch, but I still prefer the Brave Sir Robin Congress:

The criticism of Pelosi is spot on, but slightly less so on Schumer. It would take Mitch McConnell to order the Senate back into full session, not Schumer, and thus far McConnell hasn’t done so. In large part that’s because Pelosi hasn’t acted either, but it’s still a fair criticism of both Pelosi and McConnell. In a national emergency — two of them, actually, public health and economic — Congress should be in session to act as quickly as possible to deal with the responses. That includes the Senate even if the House refuses to return. In fact, it’s a little puzzling that McConnell hasn’t recalled the Senate to demonstrate Pelosi’s fecklessness.

Pelosi’s weird demonstration of her ice-cream-hoarding prowess isn’t her only optics problem, either. When asked to explain why more money can’t get to the PPP right now, Pelosi offered a confused explanation comparing it to aid for hospitals — which hasn’t yet run out:

The solution to that should be a fresh look at the situation in Phase 4, but in the meantime, small businesses need access to the PPP right now to keep people on the payroll until they can begin operating again. Rather than focus on that acute need in a program Congress has already created, Democrats want to start larding it up with identity-politics pork while they believe they have some leverage to use:

In a joint statement Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for “further changes” to the Paycheck Protection Program, plus “significantly increased” funding for disaster grants and loans, plus “additional support” for the food-stamp program, plus “adequate funding” for nationwide virus testing and personal protective equipment, plus “the collection and publication of demographic data” so that “we can accurately determine the level of impact on under-served communities and communities of color.”

Identity politics and the social pork barrel trump jobs and business solvency.

Democrats can make all this part of their election campaign, but the Paycheck Protection Program is out of funds

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