Port Huron weighs $380,780 ARP grant for CAN Council to help abused children

Members of the Port Huron City Council are set to approve the use of nearly $600,000 more in federal COVID stimulus aid on Monday, with most of the allocation going toward labor. a local non-profit organization with children affected by child abuse.

Small requests would send funds to help with a frontage and outdoor seating program with the Downtown Development Authority and the purchase of a back-up generator for Mid City Nutrition.

The largest amount of $380,780 would go to the St. Clair County Child Abuse and Neglect Council to fund two new positions for counselors who work with children and families specifically from Port Huron.

Mayor Pro Tem Sherry Archibald is the executive director of the CAN Council and is expected to abstain from voting on this item at Monday’s meeting.

During a budget discussion last Tuesday, City Manager James Freed pointed out that Archibald was not the one who originally requested funds from the $18 million share of the plan money. American rescue of the city.

“I want to be very clear that I researched this grant application,” he said. “Sherry hasn’t come to see me. The reason is that we need to (deal with) this issue in the community.

At the start of the pandemic, Port Huron placed picnic tables throughout the city's downtown area to help give restaurants more seating options and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Now the city is considering using US bailout funds to help invest in more outdoor seating again.

CAN Board proposal would keep aid going for three years

According to the proposal, the CAN Council is seeking assistance in addressing the need for increased services related to trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral mental health therapy for child victims of abuse. The CAN Council Child Advocacy Center currently includes an Intake Coordinator, Forensic Investigator, Family Advocate and Trauma Support Specialist.

ARP funds would help hire two new trauma-focused mental health positions with base salaries of $50,000 and benefits totaling $124,060, as well as $8,600 for supplies and equipment.

The post’s expenses would be annual for three years to help maintain services, which Freed compared to the city’s allocation to the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center earlier this year.

“You really need a long-term commitment,” Freed said. “…We have seen a dramatic increase in child abuse across the county and in our city during COVID. are regular reporters, so we don’t have that oversight.

Previously, council members discussed weighing ARP allocations to other community organizations and how they would ensure use would impact city residents. On Tuesday, Councilman Rico Ruiz asked if the CAN Board generally limits where funds are spent.

“There will be enough for that,” Archibald said of the $380,780. “But there is none (otherwise). We serve all of St. Clair County. … This proposal has been restricted to residents of Port Huron only. So we have another mental health therapist on staff, and they’re also looking for other funds for other therapists.

The non-profit organization said in its proposal that it conducts more than 220 forensic interviews with alleged victims per year and that more than 75% of children reveal having suffered abuse.

“With only one trauma-focused therapist on staff, we must rely heavily on referrals to other agencies for victim services,” the proposal states. “Not only is this not the best practice or the preferred model, (but) we are currently experiencing wait times of up to 3-4 months with all the trauma-focused (needs) child therapists in the county.”

Two other requests relating to emergency accommodation needs in the city center

In addition to CAN Council’s request, an additional $175,000 would go to DDA and $38,200 to Mid City, if approved by City Council members on Monday.

Freed called Mid City’s request for a backup generator “crucially important” because it would give the south end of Port Huron an emergency center – similar to the city’s Palmer Park facility. on the north side.

“So the power is out there, we have an ice storm, we need a warming center, there isn’t a place there with a backup generator,” he said. he declares. “This will allow Mid City Nutrition to become a true emergency relief center.”

The soup kitchen is building a new location on Griswold Street for more space after three decades in the basement of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church on Chestnut Street.

“Our current generator is not capable of supplying the amount of electricity needed to efficiently operate our new facility,” Mid City Executive Director Alice Rieves said in a letter to the city. “It’s also not efficient to move it to our new location.”

For the DDA request, $100,000 would go to its front grant program, which Freed said would help with a 50% match up to $10,000.

“So we hope (can) reach a lot of people,” Freed said. “Maybe (someone who) needs $1,000 if they want to put up new signage, or maybe $5,000 to fix some windows.”

An additional $75,000 would go to outdoor seating and dining furniture for the DDA.

“A big part of the problem is that outdoor seating can be expensive, and people just don’t want to take the risk. So what we’re hoping for is that the DDA will take $75,000, buy some outdoor seating that we’ll put up all over downtown,” Freed said. “In front of the restaurants, in front of the shops. That way there’s just a really nice table and chairs in front of a business that you can walk out and sit in to really bring people outside, to really allow for al fresco dining.”

Members of the Port Huron City Council meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the meeting rooms at the Municipal Office Center, 100 Blvd. McMorran. Agenda items can be viewed at http://porthuroncitymi.iqm2.com/Citizens/calendar.aspx.

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or jssmith@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.

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