Facade grant

The city of Fort Wayne’s Commercial Facade Grant program will get a boost as part of over $2 million being put into neighborhoods from excess taxes.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry on July 11 announced a new initiative designed to enhance neighborhoods and provide additional opportunities for other programs aimed at improving the quality of life in Fort Wayne.

The program possibilities are a result of additional money collected by the state through income taxes. A total of $3.86 million is being distributed to the city over and above what was budgeted for in 2019, according to a statement from the city. Henry will present a formal plan to City Council in the coming weeks.

Highlights include:

• The “Investing in Neighborhoods Now” program — $1 million would be set aside to empower residents to make neighborhood improvements. Each of the city’s four area partnerships would receive $250,000. Planning committees would be established in each area partnership to develop project ideas. The city’s Community Development Division will work with the area partnerships to ensure projects comply with city regulations and restrictions.

• An expansion of the Commercial Façade Grant program — $250,000 would go toward additional projects to assist business owners in making improvements to the exterior of their commercial properties. Henry introduced the Commercial Façade Grant program in 2008. At the end of 2019, more than 100 projects will have been completed.

• Continuation of efforts to address the opioid epidemic — $300,000 would assist the Fort Wayne Police Department with new drug testing equipment. Currently, tests performed by the Indiana State Police may take a month or more. Also, those reports only note the most prevalent drug even when a mix of substances may exist. This equipment would enable the FWPD to identify all drugs present. This would keep the FWPD on the cutting edge of new drug trends. An allocation of $200,000 would assist the Lutheran Foundation with Allen County’s Sober Living Pilot, which provides 71 new beds at three levels of care for individuals in the criminal justice system who are battling substance use disorder.

• Partnership with Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana, which provides support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities — $500,000 would be used for vocational assessment and skills training, workforce development and accessibility. In 2017, Fort Wayne was named an Ability City by Ability Indiana as a recognition of the community’s commitment to supporting the employment of individuals with disabilities. Also, in 2017, Fort Wayne and Allen County partnered in the creation of the City-County Disability Advisory Council to assist in providing equal access for people with disabilities with employment, services, programs, and activities.

• $610,000 would go into the city’s cash reserves.

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