Murray is gaining the reputation as a city with heart.
While public hearings for limited Community Development Block Grant Funds are generally exasperating for those representing low-income needs, Murray City officials turn a challenge into a blessing.It is not uncommon for the council to grant even more funds than requested.
After receiving funding Tuesday for emergency food pantries and a housing program, Sharon Abegglen, director of housing services for the Salt Lake Community Action Program, said, "The Murray Council and mayor understand the needs of low-income and are very supportive of legitimate programs. Their compassionate attitude is refreshing."
Abegglen travels to cities throughout Salt Lake County asking for funds to support programs ranging from housing to employment. As she appears before various government and private groups, it is often an uphill battle to receive money. Each year, budgets are cut from government resources and the private sector faces austere financial times.
But in her three-year experience with Murray, funds have always been made available for vital services.
"Often the city or entity will use the community grant funds for projects such as streets or parks. But Murray uses the money as it is intended - to benefit low-income. The council's concern and sensitivity toward the needs of their disadvantaged citizens is exemplary," said Abegglen.
Mayor Lavar McMillan and the council approved Tuesday a $4,000 grant to CAP for emergency food pantries and $2,000 for the housing relocation program. The food pantry provides a three-day supply to families with no food in the home. The relocation program assists low-income families in finding safe, affordable housing.
Last year, Abegglen requested $2,000 for emergency food panties. But the council increased the amount to $4,000 because they realized the urgent need in the community, she said.
Other funds approved Tuesday include:
-$7,100 for the Rape Crisis Center.
-$46,700 for housing rehabilitation, giving low or no-interest loans to restore old homes.
-$10,000 for the Work Activity Center to retrain disabled citizens.
-$30,000 for emergency home repair (such as a heater going out in mid-winter).
-$30,000 for Boys and Girls Club of Murray to expand the facility to serve more disadvantaged youngsters.
"We recognize the community grant money as intended by U.S. Congress is to assist the poor. And we have those needs in the community. We don't try to play games with the money," said Councilman Greg Brown.
"These people made their cases. They are people serving the least visible elements of our society whose needs are great."
Members of the council are frequently "deeply, emotionally moved" by presentations demonstrating the needs of the homeless, handicapped and disadvantaged in the community, said Brown.
"It's satisfying to help those who face difficulty through no fault of their own," he said.