City Paper Widget

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Should Churches or Private Businesses Receive ANC Grant Money?

Martin Moulton, a Shaw community activist, is shopping an idea to Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs). The idea is that ANC grant funds should be used to help local organizations -- especially churches and businesses -- install outward-facing security cameras on their buildings. The security camera footage could be of use to police when crimes take place in the vicinity.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So far, Moulton has attempted to interest ANC 2F/Logan Circle and 6E/Shaw in the idea. He has prepared a model grant form. But he cannot get the ANCs to commit to even considering the applications, because the grant application process is designed to benefit non-profit community groups and secular organizations only.

ANC2F Commissioner Peter Lallas (distrcit 01) brought up Moulton's proposal at the ANC's last regular monthly meeting on August 7. (Lallas is chair of ANC2F's Crime and Public Safety Committee.)

ANC grants are supposed to be for projects that produce a public benefit. It was agreed at the meeting there could be sufficient public benefit to security cameras that monitored public spaces, no matter where they were located.

However, ANC2F must first change its bylaws, because as presently written a church or a private business might not quality. The by-laws say that ANC2F "may approve grants only to citizens groups that are public in nature".

It was argued at the meeting that churches are public in nature, because anyone can walk into a church.

Gottlieb Simon of DC's Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions was present at the August 7 meeting. He confirmed the obvious fact that grant money could not be used to further religious activity. Outward-facing security cameras, however, were not a religious activity, so could be funded with ANC money, Simon said.

However, it was clear that private businesses could not, under any circumstances, qualify for a grant under the by-laws as they are currently written. Changing ANC2F's bylaws was discussed, but no proposal was put forward at the meeting.

Moulton told ANC2F he had not shopped the proposal to any area businesses yet, but would like to be in the position where he could.

ANC6E has also discussed this matter at a previous meeting but has not moved forward with a grant.

The discussion above is mentioned briefly in the summary of the meeting on ANC2F's web site here.

1 comment:

  1. The answer seems pretty simple -- create a non-profit that will receive the grant money, own and maintain the cameras, and arrange to have churches and private businesses donate the space for the equipment to the non-profit. That way, this public benefit gets realized, without opening the door to the types of abuses the restrictions are intended to prevent.