Image courtesy of Tompkins-Cortland Habitat for Humanity.

ITHACA, N.Y.—It’s that time of the year again. Awarded state and federal grants, the City of Ithaca must now decide how to disburse them in a way that benefits the community the most. As a result, the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA) will be holding public hearings on Feb. 23 and March 2, as part of the process to determine who will receive money from its U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants.

The annually awarded grants are the Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Program (CDBG) and the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). The requests are designed to help people, or more specifically to fund organizations in the community that help people in the low- and moderate-income category. The highest amount of funding is typically requested for housing-related projects.

Added together, there’s $1,951,700 requested, and $1,086,457 awarded for the city’s use (actually $932,857 when the $153,500 to run the IURA is deducted), so this makes it a fairly intense competition for grant funds. Applicants present their projects, answer questions from IURA staff and appointed public committee members, and the proposals are weighed on factors such as the applicant’s track record, the likelihood of success, and if the project delivers the most “bang for the buck” to the Ithaca community.

Annual reference note, the amount available has typically been around $1.1 to $1.2 million for the past few years, so 2023 is a little lower than the long-term running average. The requested amounts this year are also on the high side of normal, making this year extra competitive — last year was $2.03 million in requested funds, 2021 was $1.74 million, 2020 saw $2.26 million in funds sought and 2019 was $1.25 million.

This year, 20 applications were received, a touch on the low side of the long-term average. In other words, there are fewer applicants this year, but they’re asking for more money than what the IURA typically sees with each application. The intended uses for the grant dollars range from job training to community services to the development of affordable housing. Below is a summary of the applicants, with links to each application at the start of the entry.


1. The Beacon: $199,900 in requested funding toward architectural and engineering design work for the construction of a new apartment building with 55 affordable housing units on Inlet Island. The Beacon would be targeted at households between 30% to 100% Area Median Income (AMI), including nine households exiting homelessness with a member impacted by a substance use disorder. This project is covered separately in The Ithaca Voice in more detail.

2. 2023 Homeowner Rehab: Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) is seeking $195,000 toward its ongoing home rehabilitation program for lower-income homeowners (often seniors on fixed incomes). Example work includes roofing, porch rebuilds, replacement of exterior siding, plumbing, heating and similar big-ticket expenses that are difficult to pay for with limited means. The request is the same as last year, which also sought $195,000 to rehabilitate eight homes.

3. Small Repair Program: Another long-running program, INHS is requesting $40,000, the same amount as last year, to fund small emergency repairs for 40 lower-income people with disabilities, seniors, single heads of households and other city homeowners. Examples of projects under this program are wheelchair ramps, handicap-accessible showers, railing installations and minor plumbing and electrical repairs (i.e. the pipe isn’t spewing into the basement, but the kitchen sink is leaking).

4. CHT Sears Street Development: INHS is requesting $100,000 in funding for construction costs to help cover the costs of two of the four new permanently affordable for-sale Community Housing Trust homes to be built on Sears Street on land that Tompkins County split and sold from land it purchased on the 400 block of North Tioga for a new county office building. The homes, two two-bedroom and two three-bedroom buildings, would be targeted to first-time homebuyers earning less than 80% AMI.

5. 312 South Plain Street Duplex: Tompkins Cortland Habitat for Humanity is asking for $95,000 in funding for construction materials, sub-contractors (roofers and drywall finishers), and professional services to deconstruct and rebuild 312 S. Plain St. to create two owner-occupied affordable-housing units for first-time homebuyers, with incomes of 30% to 60% AMI. 

6. Housing Scholarship Program: The Learning Web, Inc. is seeking $91,800 in grant funds for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) funding toward rent and utilities for six unaccompanied LMI homeless youth, residing in supported apartments to maintain
stable housing while learning skills and behaviors to develop self-sufficiency skills. While not requested last year, The Learning Web has successfully obtained funding for this program in previous IURA funding cycles.

7. Security Deposit Assistance for Vulnerable Households (2023–24): Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga Counties is asking for $37,500, less than half of the $76,500 requested last year, to go toward security deposits for 25 LMI households, such as the elderly, disabled and single parents, to access safe and stable housing and avoid homelessness. This includes five deposits for homeless families with children in Housing for School Success program. Last year, the help was for 65 households, but the five Housing for School Success service portion remains the same.

8. SJCS Sober Living Reintegration Services: St. John’s Community Services is applying for a $106,000 grant to support the renovation of a Reintegration Services facility (Halfway House) at 402 S. Albany St. to support 14 chemically dependent, homeless individuals in Tompkins County.

9. Village at Ithaca Capital Project Expansion: Housing Component: Village at Ithaca is vying for $199,000 in funding for the construction of a transitional, affordable housing facility at 401 W. Seneca St. for four LMI younger individuals ages 14 to 24 who lack housing security.

Economic Development

10. Building Quality Career Paths Through ReUse: Finger Lakes ReUse (FLRU) is competing for $116,600 in funding toward staff wages and benefits, participant stipends and work gear for job training for LMI populations (including the unemployed, disabled, formerly incarcerated, youth and individuals in recovery), and placement of at least 15 LMI adults with employment barriers into permanent unsubsidized positions. The initiative is an extension of the long-running ReSET jobs training program, which has received IURA funding in previous years.

11. Work Preserve Job Training: Job Placements: A long-running program and recipient of HUD funds, Historic Ithaca is requesting $67,500, the same amount as requested during the past few years, to help place six low to moderate-income individuals in permanent employment. This includes intensive one-on-one training on goal setting, project management and execution, resume writing, interviewing and a transition from Historic Ithaca’s store into a new employer. Previous transition employers include Agway, GreenStar and Challenge Workforce Solutions.

12. Hospitality Employment Training Program (HETP): The Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) is requesting $70,000, $30,000 less than last year, for its Hospitality Employment Training Program (HETP), which will provide hospitality, office and administrative job training, and readiness for 20 individuals, with job placement for fourteen. Last year it was training for 10 and placement for eight, so it sounds like someone figured out a way to make the dollars go further.

13. Shared Kitchen Ithaca (SKI): Food Product Micro-Enterprise Development: The Ithaca Voice has written about the shared commercial kitchen proposal previously here. In this case, Friends of the Ithaca Farmer’s Market is asking for $47,800 in funding toward staff salaries for 24-hour direct business technical assistance for each of 10 micro-enterprises launched by low-moderate income individuals, and a 50% rent subsidy for use of licensed shared commercial kitchen at 700 W. Buffalo St. for 260 hours (at five hours a week average utilization).

14. BHU Pre-Apprenticeship Program: Black Hands Universal is applying for $70,000 in funding to help cover salaries and stipends, materials, protective gear, certifications and paperwork to provide three to five LMI youth, formerly incarcerated and BIPOC
individuals with hands-on training in different trades and skilled-labor fields, giving them basic skills necessary to obtain jobs with local trades and unions with the City of
Ithaca, Tompkins County and the private sector. Participants would work with local tradespeople on current projects around the area as part of their learning.

Public Facilities/Infrastructure

15. 200 Cecil A. Malone Dr. Sidewalk Fill-In: Normally, this category has a few applications, but there is only one this year. This is a request from the City of Ithaca for $180,000 (the IURA operates separately and the city has to apply like everyone else) to construct a shovel-ready project for installation of ADA curb ramps, curbing, new sidewalks and cross-walks, to benefit pedestrians, the local population and persons needing ADA accessible walk-ways. Actual construction would take place in 2024.

Public Services

16. 2-1-1 Information & Referral Helpline with Housing Navigation: The request from the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County is for $55,000 to cover staff salaries and fringe benefits to provide sufficient contact center coverage to meet community needs and for enhanced housing navigation services, benefiting at least 3,375 LMI persons. In previous years, 2-1-1 was just standard referral and informational services, requesting $25,000 last year. The Housing Navigation aspect to help lower-income households find housing is a new component.

17. Work Preserve Job Training: Job Readiness: In tandem with its job placement program (item #11 above), Historic Ithaca, Inc. has filed a request for $23,000 for job readiness training for 20 low- to moderate-income community members. Last year, the request was $20,000 to service 10 LMI individuals. Training takes place at Historic Ithaca’s Significant Elements architectural salvage store at 212 Center St., where participants build their professional skills in retail and customer service, warehousing, online sales, facility maintenance and furniture repair.

18. Immigrant Services Program: Catholic Charities is aiming for a $40,000 grant to help cover the costs of its support services for immigrants and refugees looking to begin another chapter of their lives in Ithaca. The program funds would support 120 individuals as Catholic Charities seeks to help place them in homes, jobs and support their efforts to integrate into the community. Last year’s request was similar if smaller, $30,000 for 100 individuals, and the program is another long-term successful operation that has received IURA support over the years.

19. A Place to Stay: Follow-Up Support for Women Gaining Stability: Catholic Charities is requesting $20,000 in grant monies toward case-management evening and weekend staffing costs to support 10 LMI adult women who are homeless or facing homelessness, and more than half of whom will be working through substance abuse recovery as they transition to independent living. In its six years, A Place to Stay (APTS) has housed 53 formerly homeless women through 58 stays, most of whom transitioned to private housing with voucher assistance or public housing. The repeat stays represent the women who left the program, struggled, then with the support of aftercare, returned to APTS. Catholic Charities says that most of the graduates have remained successful thus far and have not faced another homeless period.

20. Women’s Empowerment Services & Training (WEST): OAR of Tompkins County has submitted a request for a $44,000 grant to support training, staff stipends, bus passes, emergency hotel rooms, self-help training, food, supplies and clothing to support 25 to 35 LMI women who have been systems-involved, homeless or struggling with substance use or sex-trafficking.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at