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AWARE project leads in seeking Community Block Grant

Posted: October 24, 2011 - 11:05pm

AWARE’s shelter expansion project is gaining ground and will likely be Juneau’s front-runner in seeking a Community Development Block Grant.

AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies) is looking to build an extended stay, safe and sober shelter for women and families as a transitional option between and emergency shelter and permanent self-supported housing.

The city sought applications for the state grant, which is federally funded. Municipalities in the state may apply for the grant, except for Anchorage.

The state rules allow a community to apply for a grant for up to $850,000. The federal requirements for the funds state that a minimum of 51 percent of the people who benefit from the project must be in the low-to-moderate income bracket. It also must create a certain number of jobs per funding sectors, and those jobs should benefit primarily people in the low-to-moderate income bracket. Other project goals including being of long-term benefit to the community and improving public safety.

Three groups applied for the grant, and the City and Bureau of Juneau Assembly’s Human Resources Committee took staff’s recommendation to forward AWARE’s proposal. The proposal will go to the full Assembly before the city can apply for the grant. The deadline for the application is Dec. 2.

AWARE’s project is expected to cost approximately $3.5 million, $1 million of which has been funded by a legislative grant. The group is also seeking $1 million from the Rasmuson Foundation, though it won’t know until November whether it will receive that grant. AWARE’s board of directors has allocated $250,000 for the project as well. It is also seeking other funding sources and fund-raising campaigns.

The project consists of two phases, the first will be adding six apartments (four two-bedroom and two efficiency). Security measures will be put in place to match the emergency safe shelter and supportive services will be available through the shelter.

AWARE’s application states there are between 30-40 clients exiting the emergency shelter per year and that there is a need for an extended stay shelter.

“It will be providing six transitional housing (units) for people who are leaving the shelter,” said Beth McKibben, Community Development Planner, “while they are able to learn life skills get enough money put together so they can get into a rental or another home rather than being homeless or going back into a potentially unsafe environment.”

McKibben said the department felt AWARE was the strongest project because it would have the greatest impact to the most people and has the least amount of risk to the city. The city cannot apply for another grant until an existing one is closed out. Closing out the grant calls for the jobs requirement to be fulfilled.

The other two projects were for child care and senior assisted living.

TLC Childcare’s Babes in the Woods proposed three options that would expand its child care options. McKibben said the grant is not applicable for the first two options because they involved expanding child care in the residence. The third option looked at a child care facility at Engineer’s Cutoff, however the zoning maps do not allow for a child care facility there. McKibben said the department will continue working with TLC Childcare to find a location that a facility can be permitted in so they could apply in a future application. The proposed facility could have provided care for 35 children from newborn to age 12. The facility proposal was estimated to cost $800,000.

Juneau Rental Space also applied, proposing a senior citizen’s assisted living facility. The proposal called for the renovation of the second floor of the Urgent Care building on Old Dairy Road. It pitched two proposals: one would provide housing for 10 seniors and create six jobs, the other would provide housing to 20 seniors and provide 12 jobs. The estimated costs are $300,000 and $600,000 respectively.

For more information on the grant or the proposals see bit.ly/vvB6UJ.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com

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