Meeting need, block by block
- Published: April 5, 2020
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Click a region that covers your neighborhood on interactive map below to contact your NBC.
For more information on the project, contact the foundation at 937-767-2655 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Special thanks to Scott Fife and his database talents for creating this map and the interactivity.
Do you know your neighborhood block contact?
In the latest effort to identify — and meet — local needs during the coronavirus crisis, local leaders are empowering 31 neighborhood block contacts throughout the village.
The neighborhood block contacts, or NBCs, will soon reach out to every household in their area to learn what their needs are. Organizers say to look for a survey in your door soon.
Take the survey here.
“As the survey goes out to the neighborhoods, please let us know what the need is and we will do the best that we can to fill that need,” said Melissa Heston, who is working with the YS Community Foundation on the effort. A copy of the survey is on page 12.
Explaining the new model at a Village virtual town hall last Friday, Yellow Springs Mayor Pam Conine said it was built from the infrastructure of neighborhood block parties, each of which had a designated contact.
“We took a map of Yellow Springs, divided it into … segments and assigned a volunteer to each segment,” Conine added. A similar process is underway in the township, she said.
Conine sees the NBCs as resources for those in their neighborhood who need help, advice or just someone to talk to. And it brings responses to the national crisis closer to home.
“It’s just a way of taking the big funnel from the big federal level through the state down through southwest Ohio and into our village,” she said.
A map with each neighborhood NBC will be posted online at ysnews.com and printed in a future issue of the News.
Adapting to change
Other local responses to the COVID-19 outbreak were detailed at virtual town halls over the last week. Town halls are streamed online and broadcast on Channel 5 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while every day at 4 p.m., local elected officials, municipal staffers, nonprofit leaders and volunteers confab in a conference call about evolving efforts to meet local needs.
Reflecting on the organizing efforts that have sprung up here over the last two weeks, Village Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen suggested at Monday’s town hall that the village is “exhibiting resiliency” as it adapts to change.
“We are exemplifying what it means to be a resilient community,” MacQueen said.
“This community rises up to meet these things,” Altman said. “We’re doing the same thing now.”
Although current efforts are aimed at providing direct food and financial assistance, other responses need to be aimed at the long haul, noted Village Manager Josué Salmerón.
“We have to be prepared for the marathon,” he said.
While many villagers are struggling now, even more are likely to be struggling before, or even after, the pandemic threat has passed, due to the economic situation, Salmerón added. This is an unprecedented crisis, he noted.
“This is the hardest circumstance that our generation — many generations — will experience in their lifetime,” he said.
The Village too will need to shed costs and shift priorities, Salmerón said at the town hall in response to a question from the News on anticipated drops in municipal revenue from decreased local economic activity.
“We started discussing with our department heads what projects we need to reconsider, should we have a significant loss in our revenue streams,” Salmerón said. “If there are things we think can be delayed, we will delay them,” he added.
In a later interview, Salmerón said that the Village could take a hit of $450,000, if income tax receipts are down by 25% from their projection of $1.8 million for 2020. However, in contrast to some nearby government entities, the Village has not furloughed any of its approximately 50 employees. Salmerón said he hoped it would not come to that, but he can’t rule it out.
“I don’t want to lay off people because I know it doesn’t add to the economic recovery,” Salmerón said. “But I also have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers,” he added.
Currently, the Village’s public works department has staff working shifts on alternate days to not spread the virus. When not coming into work, staff are home completing training. Village Public Works Director Johnnie Burns said that arrangement is working well.
“We are working at half staff and we are still doing things,” Burns said.
Specifically, the Village was able to handle a 2.5-inch rain last week with water rushing quickly through the Village wastewater treatment plant. However, he has noted an increase in foreign material clogging the sanitary sewer system. He urged villagers to not flush anything but toilet paper down their toilets, noting that “flushable” disinfectant wipes cause blockages in the sewer system.
Meanwhile, Chief Brian Carlson said the YS Police Department is “business as usual.” The Village did respond to a rash of vehicle break-ins earlier in the week, which Carlson said was likely local youth. He asked villagers to lock their vehicle doors and keep their porch lights on.
Carlson also gave advice for dealing with the uptick in scam calls flooding the state. He pointed people to the Ohio Attorney General’s website at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.
gov and said people should never give personal or financial information over the phone, and even consider not answering their phone if they don’t know the number.
Looking at the overall local response to the pandemic, Salmerón is optimistic.
“I know this is a trying time for us. It will test all of us,” he said at Monday’s town hall. “We’re certain that as a community, practicing shared leadership and collaboration, we will get through this and we will do this together.”
Financial help available
As many community members have lost their incomes over the last week, food and financial assistance has risen as the prime concern, leaders explained in recent town halls.
Sandy Hollenberg announced a new avenue for financial assistance for struggling households on Friday’s town hall.
Hollenberg, director of the Yellow Springs Federal Credit Union, said that with the backing of the YS Community Foundation, the credit union is now able to make loans of $1,600 per individual in need of funds to meet immediate basic needs, such as food or gas.
As of Monday, March 23, seven local people have been approved for the loans, according to YS Community Foundation Director Jeannamarie Cox. An additional person was declined for unknown reasons.
The loans are interest-free through 2020, and will incur interest at the rate of 2.75% if the loan goes into 2021. They must be paid back by the end of that year. However, Hollenberg hopes the loans are repaid sooner.
“Hopefully they are repaid sooner so we can be turning funds around and providing access to more people who are in need,” she said.
To apply, call 937-767-7377, or fill out the application at the credit union website, http://www.yscu.org.