Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens approves community development funding for senior food program

Miami Gardens leaders on Wednesday attempted to reach a middle ground with a senior feeding program when they approved they city’s community development block grant funding plan.

At issue was funding for the Sunshine for All program, which provides hot meals five days a week to about 60 senior residents in Miami Gardens. The organization was initially slotted to receive $60,000 of the CDBG funding, a $20,000 decrease from last year. The council ultimately amended the resolution to grant $70,000 to the group.

Even with the additional $10,000, the group’s leadership thinks it will have to cut about eight people from the program. Mayor Oliver Gilbert said that he couldn’t accept the group not finding a way to support those residents and said the city is ultimately restricted by federal guidelines.

The city receives a designated amount of CDBG funding each year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — their allocation for the 2015-16 fiscal year is $1 million.

“We are not cutting the program, the federal government is cutting the program,” Gilbert said. “What I’ve noticed with the other recipients is no one else said they would cut services.”

Sunshine for All will receive the largest chunk of the CDBG funds. The second-highest allocation is $14,600 for the JPM Centre’s afterschool tutorial program.

Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro, who expressed support for the group at the Sept. 9 council meeting when the item was first considered, said he hopes the program and the city can find a way to make things work. He previously suggested cutting funding for another group or using general fund money.

“I think this is in a good spirit that the city’s trying to work, I hope that we’re not going to cut anybody,” Ighodaro said.

Council members also noted that other community programs like the North Dade Youth and Family Coalition and the Switchboard of Miami provide feeding assistance and other services for seniors.

“These are the ones that when we were younger helped us, they need to be shown some appreciation,” resident Lafrances Lee said.

The next city council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Miami Gardens City Hall, 18605 NW 27th Ave.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3