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Harrisonburg looks back at how taxpayer money went back into the community

HarrisonburgThe City of Harrisonburg is looking at ways taxpayer funds and federal grants have been used to support the community in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

City officials approved $430,000 in spring 2020 to support 27 local nonprofits and those they serve through the Community Contributions program. The long-running effort provides opportunity for qualified nonprofits that deliver services to Harrisonburg residents to receive funding from the city.

City staff review all applications, making recommendations to the Harrisonburg City Council, which ultimately awards funds through the city’s budget. Funding in 2020-2021 supported myriad programs and more than 39,000 people in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area.

Services provided included the arts, youth mentoring, legal advice and counsel for low-income residents, child advocacy and support, support for survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence, mediation education and restorative justice, childcare for community families, temporary homeless sheltering and rehousing assistance, integration and cultural connection, equal access to educational opportunities, food provision and care services for the homeless, independent living support and services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, repair services for low-income homeowners, service provision for the elderly, and transportation assistance for low-income individuals.

“The work of these nonprofits is vital for our community, and we are grateful for the opportunity to support these important organizations who do so much for our residents,” said Harrisonburg City Manager Eric D. Campbell, who makes the final funding recommendation to City Council.

The impact of the funding is wide-ranging. For example:

  • Mercy House, which works to combat poverty and homelessness in Harrisonburg, used funding to create a new position that secured permanent housing for 116 individuals who were previously homeless.
  • Skyline Literacy, which seeks to enhance adult literacy to increase self-sufficiency, used funding to provide English, citizenship and basic literacy education for 178 Harrisonburg residents.
  • The Arc, which supports those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, provided more than 9,100 pounds of food to more than 900 individuals facing food insecurity using funding the organization received. They also created a virtual community engagement program to provide opportunities for those they serve to interact with community members.

Many more examples are available at harrisonburgva.gov/financial-contribution-request.

Additionally, the city received funding through the federal CARES Act in 2020, using much of those funds to support individuals and businesses in Harrisonburg struggling due to the pandemic. Nearly $3 million in grants were provided.

  • More than $1.3 million went to 39 local nonprofits, supporting 800 employees and more than 8,700 residents.
  • More than $1 million went to 180 local businesses through 317 small business grants.
  • $500,000 went toward rent or mortgage relief to support more than 70 households.
  • More than $110,000 provided homelessness assistance throughout the community.
  • $100,000 was set aside for utility assistance for nearly 200 homes.
  • Food assistance went out to more than 2,700 residents.

In addition to supporting nonprofits with operating and interruption of services costs, grants were provided in the areas of childcare, arts and culture assistance, health clinic support, mental health support and more.

Recipients informed city officials of how these funds would support our community.

  • Our Community Place, which supports individuals who are homeless and those with other adverse experiences, served an increased number of hot meals across five different locations, serving a total of 22,474 meals in 2020.
  • The Arts Council of the Valley was able to award 10 grants of $1,500 to artists and arts nonprofits experiencing financial setbacks due to COVID-19.
  • Blue Ridge Legal Services provided legal assistance to 36 additional Harrisonburg households facing civil legal problems as a direct result of the pandemic.

More information on how CARES Act grants were provided to the Harrisonburg community is available at www.harrisonburgva.gov/non-profit-cares-act.


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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