Jobs programs fear cuts to federal funding

It’s a tough time for programs funded through Philadelphia’s Community Development Block Grant.

The Commerce Department has to come out with a plan in a matter of weeks on how it will allocate the shrinking federal grant next year.

Donna Henry, executive director of Southwest Community Development Corporation, says she expects this to be the last year the group’s job counseling program will be funded.

“Losing the program would impact hundreds of Southwest residents. We see close to 400 people a year looking for help with creating resumes, getting advice on existing resumes, learning computer skills and how to search for a job using a computer or filling out online applications,” she says.

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The funding covers job counseling at her organization and nonprofits The Lighthouse and the Parkside Association.

Lucinda Hudson, president of the Parkside Association, said the groups got the bad news from the Commerce Department last spring. It anticipated cuts and that her program would be one of the things to go.

The Commerce Department’s formal proposal on how to allocate the remaining money, the consolidated plan, is due in the coming weeks.

The block grant program is turning 37 this year.

Alan Greenberger, head of the Commerce Department, says that money has steadily increased until last year, when it received was cut substantially.

He said no decisions have been made on what will be funded. He says the department was able to shield funded organizations from the cuts last year, but this year the money will not stretch far enough.

“We’re not picking from the some good, some bad piles. We’re picking from — it’s all good, and that’s not going to be an easy process,” he said.

Greenberger says homeless services and business-corridor investment will be top priorities.

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