Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announced a new initiative Wednesday that aims to provide $3.86 million in state funding for local organizations and programs focused on neighborhood and quality-of-life improvements.
Dubbed “Investing in Neighborhoods Now,” $1 million would be set aside to empower residents to make their own neighborhood improvements, while each of the city’s four area partnerships would receive $250,000.
Additionally, the city’s commercial facade program will receive a funding boost of $250,000; a combined $500,000 will go to the Fort Wayne Police Department and Lutheran Foundation to combat the opioid epidemic; $500,000 will be committed to Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana for “vocational assessment and skills training, workforce development, and accessibility;” and $610,000 will go to the city’s cash reserves.
The city’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services and its Homeowner Repair Program would see the largest investment under the plan. Community Development deputy director Kelly Lundberg says the investment allows the department to create an insurance fund that could ultimately lead to gains for the city.
“Each year we anticipate at least $100,000 going back into the program, that we’ll be able to use to assist more families,” said Lundberg.
Of the $500,000 being divided for opioid treatment and recovery, Lutheran will take $200,000 to help support Allen County’s Sober Living Pilot, which “provides 71 new beds at three levels of care for individuals in the criminal justice system battling substance use disorder.”
Lutheran CEO Marcia Haaff says they had to match a $1.5 million grant from the state with local funds to make this happen, and says the program would assist adults 18 years of age or older with a substance abuse disorder.
“This is an alternative to incarceration. They remain under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system," Haaff said. "This is the first ever program of its kind, and we’re announcing those 71 beds tomorrow.”
City Council still has to approve the measure. Henry’s office says the plan will be presented to council “in the coming weeks.”