McGinn hopes to bring neighborhood grants back to pre-recession levels

There once was a time, before the economic meltdown of 2008, when an extra $500,000 a year was set aside in Seattle’s budget for the Neighborhood Matching Fund, where grassroots community groups can apply for aid in bringing everything from festivals to community gardens into their neighborhoods.

It’s a fund-matching system West Seattle neighbors have taken advantage of many times in the past.

On Sept. 10, Mayor Mike McGinn announced his plan to restore that $500,000 as part of his 2014 budget, if city council is willing to push it through.

Included in that half million is budget for a Dept. of Neighborhoods staff member to work with citizens on implementing their grants and $60,000 “for projects designed to discourage criminal activity,” according to McGinn’s office.

Specifically, that $60k in public safety funding will be earmarked towards teaching neighborhoods CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design), a common topic at West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ and Crime Prevention Council meetings and the expertise of Southwest Precinct CPT Officer Jonathan Kiehn.

In areas with common property crime (such as West Seattle), CPTED is all about making one’s home a less attractive target to thieves by creating sightlines onto your property and limiting hiding spots. For example, one principal encourages see-through, low fences (even in the backyard). If your neighbors can see into your backyard, burglars are less likely to enter your property. If you have a ten foot high, solid fence, all they need to do is hop it quickly and they can find a way inside without fear of peering eyes.

McGinn’s CPTED proposal calls for bringing in a consultant to work with communities in “assess(ing) problem areas and implement(ing) solutions” according to his office.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund includes the Small and Simple Projects Fund, Small Sparks Fund, and Large Projects Fund. The Small and Simple deadline comes up next, on Oct. 7.

“For 25 years, the Neighborhood Matching Fund has been integral to so many community projects and activities,” McGinn said in a prepared statement. “It’s contribution to neighborhoods can be seen across the city from the Fremont Troll to Georgetown’s Hat n’ Boots. This funding will help residents as they design projects to support the quality of life of their neighborhoods.”

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