Community Development Dept’s handling of Grants

Community Development Dept’s handling of Grants

My curiosity peaked when I heard that monies were misspent from the $3.1
million grant for the homeless, so I asked for answers from the Community
Development Department.

According to Awilda Pimentel, Community Development Director, “The HOME
ARP funds of 3.1 million dollars have been allocated to the HOME ARP Project
Account under the oversight of the Finance Department. These funds are for an
Affordable Housing Construction Project for homeless families that will be under
construction soon.”

That means that the $3.1 million grant has not even been used; yet my
findings revealed that the city has invested over 1 million dollars to address
homelessness and prevent evictions, this colossal investment is the first time ever in
the history of Lawrence. They have implemented a citywide plan to address
homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse.

To the question of how much money was allocated for Rental Assistance and
how many residents have been helped, the response was not so easy. Also, each
resident does not have the same amount of rent per family because rents vary
depending on unit size, area, etc.

Ms. Pimentel continued, “We typically assist the individual or family for 3
months unless there are extenuating circumstances, we can then extend to 6 months
of emergency rental assistance. Each case is different including and may be at
different stages in the eviction process at the Lawrence Housing Court.”
When asked about the rumor that there are names repeated in that rental
assistance, she clarified that it is true. There have been cases of severe illness
keeping someone out of work for a long time and the family was assisted a second

“The Community Development Department assisted many Lawrence families
to remain in their homes, prevent eviction, rapid rehousing, and prevent
homelessness,” Awilda explained.

My request to see the list of names was rejected. “Community Development
doesn’t have disclosure agreements or consents to release residents’ personal
information.” I realized that it could be embarrassing for them to make it public, but
Ms. Pimentel invited me to look at the list to satisfy my curiosity, which I found

Next, we don’t hear much about how many Lawrence residents First Time
Home Buyers have received assistance from the $500,000 funds allocated or how
successful it has been.

To my surprise, only two last year: Miguel Berroa received $50,000 and
Julissa Santos $20,000.

In addition, the Community Development Department is addressing food
insecurities with the following actions MHTF and Mass in Motion: $27,000; Pandemic
Recovery Efforts: Thanksgiving Dinners $3,133; and Lawrence General Hospital-
DON Funds- Market Basket Cards $30,000.

For more information, please refer to the chart of expenditure below.


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