Ashland divides up federal funds to help needy

Federal money channeled through the city of Ashland will help homeless and low-income residents as well as developmentally disabled adults.

Ashland City Councilors decided to award $125,004 in federal Community Development Block Grants to help those populations.

The Ashland Emergency Food Bank will receive $87,000 to help it purchase the building it currently leases near the Exit 14 interchange.

The food bank is trying to raise $475,000 to pay for the building and has $212,000 so far, food bank representatives said.

The nonprofit food bank provides food for 500 families each month, which represents 1,200 individuals — 40 percent of whom are children, representatives said.

The St. Vincent de Paul Home Visitation program will receive $16,607 to help get homeless families into housing and to help prevent homelessness through rent and utility bill assistance and other aid.

The Maslow Project will receive $16,607 to help homeless kids, including those in the Ashland School District. The group helps with food, clothing, school supplies, transportation to school and other needs, with a goal to help youths graduate and become self-sufficient adults.

Living Opportunities, which helps people with developmental disabilities live and work in the community, will receive $14,566 to renovate the exterior of its Ashland Community Employment Services Building. The building is used to support employment and recreation activities for special needs populations.

Councilors decided to give money to Living Opportunities rather than funneling $14,466 to the city government's Ashland Energy Efficiency Program, which improves the energy efficiency of homes occupied by low income households, reducing their utility bills and boosting conservation efforts.

Councilors said the energy efficiency program was worthwhile, but they felt uncomfortable with the city competing for limited funding against the nonprofit organizations.

"I respect the city program, but Living Opportunities fills an important niche in the community," Councilor Dennis Slattery said.

In order to avoid conflicts of interest, Councilor Pam Marsh, the manager of the food bank, and Councilor Greg Lemhouse, president of the food bank's board of directors, did not take part in the discussion of the grants or vote on the allocations.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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