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ALTON - A local organization is one step closer to getting a $300,000 boost from the City of Alton in an effort to address homelessness while expanding its community outreach.

At Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Alex Pfister with the Greater Alton Community Development Corporation presented a proposal aimed at addressing homelessness using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Pfister said if the organization had the funding to hire a dedicated, full-time executive director, they would be able to expand and improve on their community outreach efforts and economic development projects. He emphasized that this funding would be a one-time deal, as the organization intends to become fully financially independent from the city once these initiatives get up and running.

“Our hope is that this money, which is laid out in a way that is staggered to show that over time, we become self-sustaining and not relying on the City of Alton,” Pfister said. “So, using one-time money, the ARPA money, to do a one-time thing for us - specifically, to hire an executive director, but also to then get our projects moving forward, which could be outreach, working with Overnight Warming Locations … and doing the community development part, which could actually be low-income housing or affordable housing.”

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He added that the organization’s approach consists of two parts - the “community outreach” portion, which aims to build community trust through greater communication and involvement, and the “community development” portion consisting of actual housing construction projects. Both go hand-in-hand as Pfister said the group aims to consult community members before major building projects, to make sure they’re “not just building something the community doesn't want.”

Alderman David Gahn asked Pfister about the organization’s past projects. Pfister recalled two prior housing projects, the “Humboldt Apartments” and two houses on 4th Street and Central Avenue, both of which he said were completed about 10 years ago.

Alderman Raymond Strebel implied the projects had not turned out as intended and asked how else the organization’s business model has changed to make it successful going forward.

“There’s been eight new board members since those projects were done, so it’s almost an entirely new set of people who are working that we like to think represent the community as well as different professions and different backgrounds,” Pfister said. “In the past, they’ve never had a dedicated executive director - they’ve had shared executive directors … I think there was a lack of community engagement. [Those] are examples of ways we hope to be different than the previous decade.”

Later in the meeting, committee members unanimously approved a resolution granting $300,000 in ARPA funding for the Greater Alton Community Development Corporation “for homelessness and affordable housing initiatives.”

The item now goes to the Alton City Council, which is likely to take action on the item at their next meeting on June 12, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. All Alton City Council meetings can be watched live on the Riverbender.com Facebook page or website, or on demand with your smart TV on theRiverbender.com ROKU channel and on theRiverbender.com YouTube channel.

A full recording of the June 10, 2024 Alton Committee of the Whole meeting is available at the top of this story, on the Riverbender.com Facebook page, or on Riverbender.com/video.

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