BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Council met Thursday to discuss the city’s Children and Youth Fund and why its millions in grants have been slow to get to programs where the money is needed.
The Children’s and Youth Fund was created by Mayor Jack Young in 2016.
The idea was to funnel taxpayer dollars into grassroots organizations to help the city’s youth, but Baltimore City Councilmembers and Mayor Young said they’re concerned about how slowly the money is getting dispersed.
19-year-old Cornell Jefferson said he has been homeless for the past four years.
“I’m actually in a shelter right now, and living everyday life is sometimes hard,” Jefferson said.
He came to City Hall Thursday night because he said he is one of the many young people in Baltimore who need the city’s Children and Youth Fund to work.
“I’m frustrated it’s not going to the organizations that are trying to help me out,” Jefferson said. “I’m here to push more for them and push more for myself.”
Mark Feiring with the Maryland Book Bank is one of the 84 organizations getting money from the fund.
“It’s very frustrating for a lot of other organizations that I’ve spoken to,” Feiring said. “They’re really having a lot of trouble not getting this money.”
The city allocated $9.6 million for the fund and decided a group called the Associated Black Charities would be in charge of administering the money.
Mayor Young and City Councilmembers are asking for more clarity about how the funding is getting to the charities.
“What additional supports do you need from the council, from the administration, to ensure that things are moving forward?” Kristerfer Burnett, a Baltimore City Councilmember, said.
“The issue here is this is the nature of government dollars, it’s just a conflict,” Diane Bell-McKoy, CEO of Associated Black Charities, said.
Associated Black Charities assures they are making improvements and learning as they go, but organizations say they need the money now.
Associated Black Charities said they secured an account to better work with managing the funding.