The Human Services Committee of the Board of Alders voted unanimously Wednesday night to allow dozens of New Haven nonprofit agencies to receive donations this year under the Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act.
The vote took place at a hearing at City Hall. The matter now goes to the full board for final approval.
The Act provides state tax credits to philanthropic corporate onors to approved local nonprofits. The city gets to draw up the list of New Haven agencies qualifying each year under the program. Once the alders approve a list of qualifying agencies, the list goes to the state Department of Revenue Services. DRS collects all the requests from municipalities, then prorates the approved grants if the requests exceed the program’s $5 million cap.
Alders at the hearing praised the program before Wednesday night’s vote, while also speaking of the need to let more people — especially at smaller nonprofits, know about it.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits to receive donations that are readily needed to support the work that they are doing for New Haven,” said Beaver Hills/Beverly Hills Alder RIchard Furlow. “It’s also a tremendous opportunity for corporations to receive tax credits while contributing to a good cause. All parties involved are doing great work and I am excited to be a part of approving this procedure.”
In a letter to the Alder President Tyisha Walker-Myers last April, Livable City Initiative Executive Director Serena Neal-Sanjurio provided the list of nonprofit organizations applying for eligibility to receive donations.
The list of agencies (some of which had more than one application includes: Beulah Land Development Corp., Capital for Change, Christian Community Action, Columbus House, Community Soup Kitchen, Congregation Beth Israel, Connecticut Association for Performing Arts, Continuum of Care, Edgewood Corners, Edgewood Elm Housing, Edgewood Village, Emergency shelter Management Services, F.O.H., Fellowship Place, Gateway Community College Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership, Leeway, Liberty Community Services, Marrakech, New haven Colonial Historical Society , Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven, New Haven Home Ownership Center, New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, R’kids, Site Projects, Solar Youth, Teach for America, The Connection Fund, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yedidei Hagan, Yeshiva of New Haven, Young Men’s Institute Library, Youth Continuum.
A full six of them— Edgewood Corners, Edgewood Elm Housing, Edgewood Village, FOH, Yedidei Hagan, Yeshiva of New Haven — are nonprofit housing developers controlled by New Haven Rabbi Daniel Greer; the future of those agencies is in doubt because of a $21 million civil judgment against Greer for sexually abusing a student at his yeshiva.
In the letter, Neal-Sanjurjo explained that the Act created a “program for corporations to donate funding to the community programs and receive a tax credit from the State of Connecticut for said donations. The program asks New Haven and the Bard of Alders to act as “a liaison between non-profit organizations and the State of Connecticut,” Neal-Sanjurjo explained.
At the public hearing, LCI Deputy Director Administrative Services Cathy Schroeter explained the Neighborhood Assistance Act to the alders.
“Imagine you are running a program, like a free lunch program,” Schroeter said. “You need a budget, so you propose that budget through the LCI to the state. You need somebody to donate to your program, and let’s say you need ten thousand dollars. The organization that donates that money receives a tax credit for what they do, so both parties are reaping benefits for participating in this program.”
According to Schroeter, corporations usually receive 60 percent of what they donate as tax credit. If they donate to a nonprofit working on increasing energy efficiency, corporations can receive 100 percent of their donations as tax credit, Schroeter said.
Schroeter was the only member of the public who testified.
While alders agreed to approve all 44 nonprofit projects as eligible to receive donations under the act, they also voiced concerns about the program’s lack of publicity.
“How well do smaller nonprofits know about this program?” Hill Alder Evelyn Rodriguez asked Schroeter. “This program has existed for the past 22 years, and I can’t believe many of us never heard about it. It’s important that small nonprofits – which often need most funding – know about this act.”
Downtown Alder Roth suggested that the LCI work with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to increase publicity about the Neighborhood Assistance Act program.
“The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven already has a central database that lists all the local nonprofits and grant opportunities,” Roth explained. “If we are trying to get a word out about this act, we can use the central database to share information, especially so that small nonprofits can also benefit from it.”