COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Community development was the focus of a meeting held Tuesday in Columbus City Council chambers.

Organizations presented their ideas to show why they deserved a chunk of federal funding. City council is working to increase affordable housing opportunities, prevent homelessness, and push forward positive community development.

A dozen community organizations and three public improvement projects all presented ideas for a piece of $7.5 million.

“These are programs that run the gamut, but they’re all focused on really how do we build homeownership? How do we keep folks in their homes? And how do we invest in other communities like our homelessness community as well?” Columbus City Councilmember Nick Bankston said.

One of those organizations is asking for funding to upgrade its food pantry.

“Our pantry is in an old building,” Executive Director of Clintonville Community Resource Center Stephanie Baker said. “It’s in a building that was built in 1929 and it used to be a library, so it was not originally designed to accommodate upwards of 12,000 people a year and over 700,000 meals and food distributed.”

Another is asking for money for renovations that will keep its doors open.

“If the facility HVAC goes down, we would be forced to close our doors temporarily while things are being replaced, and as we know from the pandemic, our kids really need to be in school and therapies,” Co-Founder and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Erin Nealy said. “Especially this population of students and clients really requires that consistent therapy and school service. So it’s important for us to get ahead of this problem before we will be forced to close our doors to repair this system that’s beginning to fail.”

This is a long process and organizations won’t know for sure until the end of the year if they have secured funding, but they’re hopeful it will kick-start their projects.

“We are submitting our proposal which is Project Genesis, which is the new start to the Rickenbacker-Woods Foundation’s education initiatives. We’ve asked the City of Columbus and the federal government to fund a new park on Columbus’ South Side,” President of the Rickenbacker-Woods Foundation Michael Aaron said. “Where this park will go is replacing an alley. It’s replacing a scary-looking part of the neighborhood with beauty.”

This is one part of more than $15 million in federal money for the city.

“We are always going to make sure that we’re taking constant feedback from the community to make sure that the products that we’re investing in not only fit our priorities as a city but also fit the priorities of our community,” Bankston said.

The other parts focus on funding affordable housing, housing opportunities for those with AIDS, homelessness prevention, and shelter assistance.