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Funding for South Brunswick Low Income Seniors and Disabled Programs Discussed

Federal grant supports groups that serve the low-income elderly and disabled communities.

The South Brunswick Township Council heard recommendations last week for the allocation of grant funds that aid programs serving low-income elderly and disabled communities.  

The Community Development Block Grant allocated about $67,000 to South Brunswick, as one of 19 county municipalities to receive funds through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. The program, aimed at eliminating code violations, health and safety problems, is open to South Brunswick agencies and non-profit groups for low-income elderly and the disabled. 

The grant amount was in stark contrast to the funding provided by the program in previous years.

"A few years ago we got about $117,000," said Mayor Frank Gambatese. "Some of us thought this program was going to be eliminated by the federal government. It wasn't eliminated, but it was drastically cut."

Chairwoman of the South Brunswick Citizens Advisory Committee Arlyne DeSena and representative Colleen Schlaffer presented their recommendations on how the funds should be allocated last week, marking the first time in several years the process was without longtime former chair last November.

The committee received about $126,000 in requests, from which they approved proposals from six different township entities for $67,524.

Among the recommendations from the committee were $15,000 for the township's The club, which is open to South Brunswick residents age 21 to 55 with developmental and physical disabilities, seeks to provide a social and support network for its members.

The Citizens for Independent Living (CIL) received the largest allocation of funds, with $22,000 for a service provider who teaches daily living skills to adults with developmental disabilities and helps them maintain their housing in South Brunswick. The CIL, which began in 1984, provides training and housing for the developmentally disabled, including 11 apartments for 16 residents at the CIL Woods apartment complex on Route 522.

The South Brunswick Senior Center was allocated $20,000 for a social worker who coordinates a social services program that assists seniors with problems related to aging, directs referrals, and travels to the homes of seniors in need of help but who cannot travel to the senior center.

About $4,000 was allocated for housing rehabilitation for low income residents in need of health and safety improvements to their homes. DeSena noted that a majority of these grant applications are for residents of mobile homes who are not eligible for the county's housing rehabilitation program.

An additional $3,000 was allocated to the South Brunswick Public Library for large print books and about $3,500 was allocated to the South Brunswick Food Pantry for a part-time assistant who helps maintain and organize goods donated to the pantry. 

From the 19 municipalities in Middlesex County who received grant funds, a certain amount needs to be allocated for construction projects. DeSena said South Brunswick's allocations may need to change pending the results of the other municipalities' grant fund projects.

"I think the board did a great job," Mayor Gambatese said. "There were many other requests, so I hope we can find other sources to fund them."

The grant allocations will return for a public hearing and adoption later this month.

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