Parkersburg will receive a $1.2 million grant that addresses homelessness

WTAP Daybreak
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 1:56 AM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Parkersburg City Council discussed multiple topics at Tuesday night’s council meeting, from police raises to getting a big grant from HUD.

With council’s approval, Parkersburg is on the path to receive a HUD grant worth about $1.2 million dollars.

Development Director Ryan Barber said of the grant, “This has to be transformative. It can’t just be a one time fix. We want to see outcomes that benefit from these dollars five ten years down the road.”

Barber said that the grant’s general focus is on projects that help homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.

“We’ve targeted some funding for the development of non-congregate shelter and supportive services,” he said.

Barber explained that non-congregate shelters have private sanitary services.

“Rather than a large open-floor plan or barracks style homeless shelter, that would provide private facilities with shower, sink, toilet facilities in house…,”

Barber explained that the legislation and funding was designed by people in DC when Covid was more pervasive in our every day lives. That’s why they went with non-congregate shelter.

Barber said supportive services encompass a wide range of projects, including expanding Children’s Home Society services.

“They’ve done an excellent job. They’ve worked with the city for a number of years on providing services to our at-risk youth - homeless youth…,” he said.

Also at the council meeting, the ordinance giving sworn police officers a $1.04 hourly raise passed its final reading.

Parkersburg Police Chief Matthew Board said of the measure, “You know a move that the city’s made to take care of its officers is really a move to take care of the public as well.”

Board told WTAP that he hopes it helps Parkersburg police be competitive with pay. He said recruitment and retention is a struggle for the department. It’s an issue that’s worsened over the years.

“Probably over the last eight years it’s become more difficult but as time has gone on, it’s become more difficult as to where we would have 250 or 300 applicants take the test, you know, 15 or 20 years ago. You know 20 or 25 may take it now on a good testing cycle.”

Board said police departments across the U.S. are struggling with recruitment and retention.

Also at city council, a local voiced his concerns about a library book called ‘Let’s Talk About It,’ calling its contents inappropriate, taking issue with it being aimed toward teens.

Councilman Ray Eubanks agreed, urging council to help him take action on library books. He said that he has been working on the situation, doing research.

On the other hand, councilman Mike Reynolds said that council doesn’t have control over what the library does. He said that council only seats one person on the library board of five people, saying that it’s not enough to make a difference. Reynolds added that the city is mandated by state law to fund the library through the levy.

Multiple other topics were discussed.