Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Worse Chance

Amherst A Better Chance 

Social service agencies in Amherst must be on a bad karma list, as nothing but negative news seems to come this way.

Last week the town announced a $900,000 federal dollar hit as annual Community Development Block Grant funding is about to vaporize because Amherst no longer meets the minimum qualifications for mini-entitlement status.

A maxi problem for agencies such as the newly expanded homeless shelter, Craig's Doors, or the Amherst Survival Center.

Now via her Facebook page, AABC board member Julie Marcus sounded the alarm about the iconic, ever-so-Amherst program where the name says it all: "A Better Chance".

The Juggernaut of charities, the United Way of Hampshire County, has axed all funding to this longtime Amherst institution.

Ms. Marcus reports AABC has received UW funding for at least the past 15 years that she has been involved, although a few years back they did reduce annual revenues from $25,000 to $13,000.

The total annual budget for the 44-year-old Amherst program is only $100,000, so 13% is a pretty big hit to absorb all at once. And it's not like the agency doesn't work at fundraising:  October 20 will mark the 41st "Fall Foliage Walk," a major fundraiser for the program and a popular, fun, family outing.

One has to wonder how all the participants in that heartwarming event are going to feel about this cold hearted decision?  Perhaps -- as donors -- they will tell the United Way of Hampshire County to take a hike.


Tom McBride said...

I don't feel happy that funds for AABC will be cut but I don't feel sorry in general for Amherst at all. Amherst has about the best schools in the whole of western Mass yet it wants MORE. If Amherst was the forward thinking community it PORTRAYS itself as it would take some of the money it does have and give it to Holyoke and Springfield. Yet that's never going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Um, that's not how funding works. Taxpayers pay for their town services through their property taxes. Town governments would have no right to give that to another locale. State funding, which taxpayers pay through the state income tax among other sources is for just that purpose.

Anonymous said...

Why is the community block funding being cut? Anyone talking?

Larry Kelley said...

I think we were always pretty marginal for qualifying.

The Feds probably took a closer look at the actual year-round population demographics.

Town officials apparently are going to appeal the decision once it is formally made, so we will know more then (unless of course one of them cares to comment anonymously).

Anonymous said...

But the feds must have an actual reason for cutting funds. Any word on that from the town?

Tom McBride said...

I hear a lot of talk about federal taxes, perhaps people DON'T LIKE paying them, yet when the feds cut OUR funding, we seem very disappointed. I'm not sure what all the disappointment is about. The money doesn't come from thin air.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the town misused these funds. instead of building affordable housing, they used some of these monies to fix roads. when is the select board going to have to answer for this?

Anonymous said...

I thought it had to do with the population shift brought on by the last census. It's according to numbers of low income full time residents. Absolutely nothing to do with misuse of funds -- you would have seen that headlined from here to Boston.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea how many kids do they host each year at the Amherst ABC house? Just wondering.

Larry Kelley said...

Generally eight. But at the moment, seven.