At a special meeting on Aug. 13, Lebanon City Council awarded $200,000 of federal COVID relief money to Lebanon County Christian Ministries to help renovate a city property that would replace about a dozen rotating homeless shelter sites.

Mayor Sherry Capello told council that a local charitable organization, the Laurie & Dave Foundation, is negotiating to purchase the First Evangelical Congregational Church and its adjacent church hall at 6th & Chestnut streets, which it would lease to LCCM.

The funds were awarded to the city under the 2020 CARES Act, in the form of community development block grants, known commonly as “CDBGs.”

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The specially scheduled meeting became necessary when the state Department of Housing and Urban Development notified the city on Aug. 3 that it only had until Aug. 16 to change its 2021 CDBG plan to award the money.

Capello said LCCM had been operating its FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center at several participating churches and changing the location about every two weeks.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was forced to shut down the rotating shelters and house clients at Lebanon’s Hammock Hotel (the former Quality Inn) at an additional cost, according to Capello.

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David and Laurie Funk confirmed on Aug. 16 that the foundation has a sales agreement with the church, and that the plan is to lease the property to LCCM. He was unable to offer more details, stressing that the project is in its early stages.

Capello also said, and Funk confirmed, that the city’s Zoning Hearing Board gave a variance from on-site parking requirements last May, but that a problem with the property’s deed description could delay the sale.

The mayor said using CARES Act CDBG money is authorized because a single location that eliminates multiple shelters will make it easier to respond to and prevent the spread of COVD-19, plus meet an urgent need to help low and moderate income people.


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