CT nonprofits getting an extra $35 million. They say it's not nearly enough

The money comes from the Nonprofit Grant Program, which is funded through state borrowing. It was first established in 2013.

John Craven

Apr 10, 2024, 9:08 PM

Updated 40 days ago


Nonprofits do everything from heating people's homes to tackling Connecticut's fentanyl crisis. And they say they're "in crisis."
On Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced an additional $35.5 million in grants for nonprofits across the state. But providers said it's not nearly enough to clear up long wait times.
Lamont made the announcement at Community Mental Health Affiliates in New Britain. People come there when they have nowhere else to go.
"They've hit that – for them – rock-bottom or what they think is, you know, the end," said Meaghan McFall Gorman, CHMA's Development and Community Engagement Coordinator. "They come in, you can speak to someone today."
CHMA is getting more than $1 million for a residential home that provides round-the-clock training for the behaviorally ill for up to a year and a half.
"That helps to teach them living skills – life skills," said McFall Gorman. "How to use public transportation, how to budget, how to, you know, make a grocery list."
The money comes from the Nonprofit Grant Program, which is funded through state borrowing. It was first established in 2013.
"I think that's why we're here today, because I think of Connecticut as a big family," Lamont said.
Locally, nearly a dozen projects are getting money. In Bridgeport, the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club will get renovated. In Milford and Greenwich, hospitals can now upgrade public safety.
"We are grateful to the governor for grants announced today," said Gian-Carl Casa, president of The Alliance, which lobbies for nonprofits across the state. "Long-term underfunding has made it difficult to impossible for community nonprofits to make capital improvements. These grants will make many much-needed projects a reality."
In Norwalk, STAR Inc. is getting $600,000 for two new Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant entrance ramps.
"STAR is a fantastic organization here in Norwalk, providing essential services to individuals with disabilities from birth through their senior years," said state Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). "I am grateful to Gov. Lamont for continuing to make these critical investments to our local nonprofits that serve our most vulnerable residents. These facility upgrades will ensure STAR families are able to access the office safely and securely."
But all this money comes with a catch. Grant funding can only be used for capital expenses, like purchasing buildings and vehicles, or major renovations.
CHMA's McFall Gorman said it will help stabilize them but do little to reduce a growing backlog.
"We've had, at points, wait times of anywhere from a few weeks to a few months," she said. "But right now, for the majority of our services, we're looking at almost a one-year wait time."
Nonprofits asked state lawmakers for hundreds of millions more. But the General Assembly decided to stick with the current state budget. Now, they're looking at using unspent federal American Rescue Plan money.
But lawmakers are still waiting for Lamont to tell them how much ARPA funding is left. The governor told reporters their best estimate is "hundreds of millions" of dollars.
"It's not like the ARPA money is sitting in a shoebox somewhere in cash," he said Wednesday. "Most of it's committed -- allocated – but it may not have been spent. So we're trying to see what discretion we have over those monies."
The clock is ticking. Lamont and the General Assembly only have until May 8 to hammer out a budget deal.

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