Public hearings on requests for federal anti-poverty funds opened before the United Planning Organization this month, with five community groups seeking more than $2.2 million to fund social service programs for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 1979.
Five teams of UPO board members traveled throughout the city to meet with citizens and community group representatives to discuss programs that would serve an estimated 108,400 people.
Included in the proposals, which emphasized job training and the creation of more jobs for the city's poor, were plans to provide more housing referral services, education classes, consumer advocacy, lunch programs for senior citizens, economic development projects and counseling for criminal offenders.
The D.C. Recreation Department opened the meetings by requesting $1.3 million for youth service programs administered by the 20 Neighborhood Planning Councils (NPC) in the city. The request represents a $400,000 increase over the current funding for NPCs. The additional funds would be used for increased administrative costs and to provide jobs for 51 more youths and nine adults, according to the proposal request.
Oliver Johnson, chairperson of the NPC Council of Chairpersons, said NPC youth programs reach an estimated 89,000 poverty and middle-income youths and adults each year.
Following criticism from a member of the advisory Neighborhood Comissions that NPC activities are not adequately promoted, Johnson said he would request a meeting between ANC and NPC representatives to discuss the issue.
Virginia Morris, director of the Far East Community Services, Inc., which serves an area of nearly 90,000 residents in far Northeast and Southeast Washington, requested $290,000 for her agency, a $28,000 increase over current funding.
The funds would be used to expand existing community services that include youth counseling, the creation of new jobs, a senior citizen lunch program and housing information.
During last December and January, 600 youths in that area became wards of the court, which justifies the need for more youth jobs and counseling services, Morris said.
Morris said the funds would be used to reach an estimated 15,000 people.
The Shaw area was represented by the Central City Community Corporation (the 4-Cs). More than 75 citizens, government workers, school officials and ministers turned out to support the agency's programs.
Edward Nesbitt, executive director of the 4-Cs, asked UPO for $235,000 the funds would direct a program package emphasizing education and job training, he said. The request represented a $1,406 increase over the current funding.
"One of our problems is young people standing on the corner and ripping off whoever seems helpless," Nesbitt said.
He said officials at the 4-Cs believe some of these problems could be reduced through innovative education programs, Nesbitt added, "We take the position the school will not succeed by itself."
The position was defended and applauded by school board member Alaire B. Rieffel, whose ward includes the Shaw area. Support also came from Shaw area school officials, who said the 4-Cs provided services to their schools through volunteer programs, funding request from Idus Holmes, director of the Near Northeast Community Involvement Corp. The request represents a $15,610 increase over the current funding.
Holmes said the funds would be used to support the many corporation services provided to residents in the H Street area. Among those serrvices, she said, are job training, parenting workshops, educational development, housing referrals and senior citizen food programs.
Throughout the week, UPO board members sat through two- and three- hour meetings as enthusiastic citizens testified on behalf of community programs in their neighborhoods. The lone exception was the hearing for the Bureau of Rehabilitation.
"Because of the lack of public response, that meeting took less than a hour," said Edgar Lowry, UPO director of program development.
The Bureau of Rehabilitation provides counseling and accepts responsibility for the release of low-income criminal offenders unable to post bond and ineligible for release on their own recognizance, Lowry said. The agency also operates half-way houses for former criminal offenders, but the half-way houses are not funded through UPO, Lowry said.
The agency requested $72,450, an $3,761 increase over current UPO funding.
All funding requests will be acted upon by the full UPO board following conclusion of the community hearings, which were to conclude this week.