Federal legislation to provide funding for local libraries and parks clears hurdle

Federal lawmakers who represent Long Beach touted a range of projects for youth, students, veterans and others that are earmarked for funding in an appropriations bill that cleared a critical hurdle this week.

U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragán, a Democrat who represents North Long Beach, said her office secured $7.5 million that would pay for multiple community service projects throughout her southeast Los Angeles County district, including learning workshops for kids and funding for more books in multiple languages at the Michelle Obama Library.

And Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat who represents most of the city, said $7.5 million has been set aside for supportive housing for veterans at the Villages at Cabrillo, an education program run by the African American History and Culture Foundation and academic support for students at Cal State Long Beach.

Funding for the local projects cleared several subcommittees on Monday, a significant hurdle in the bureaucratic budgetary process.

Final approval of the federal legislation isn’t expected until September or October, after the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate vote on a series of 2022 appropriation bills that then need the president’s signature.

North Long Beach

About $250,000 of the $7.5 million would go to the North Long Beach public library that serves a population of over 95,000 people in the 90805 ZIP code.

Since 2016, the Michelle Obama Library has been a “community hub for growth and enrichment” for families in North Long Beach, Glenda Williams, director of Library Services, said in an email.

“We are delighted that Congresswoman Barragán acknowledges this and is supportive of advancing the effort to further promote school readiness and learning opportunities for our multilingual children and families,” Williams said.

The money will help the library expand learning workshops, events and other programs that contribute to the development of young children, Barragán said in a statement.

Funding for the North Long Beach library is among 10 other community projects Barragán’s office championed.

Barragán said the legislation has a ways to go before it becomes reality, but she’s optimistic the legislation will pass. “I am optimistic and will keep fighting for it all the way through,” she said.

Other city funding

Other projects included in the appropriation bills include roughly $1.1 million for infrastructure improvements to The Cove at the Villages at Cabrillo, which offers permanent supportive housing for veterans in West Long Beach.

Another $500,000 will be used to expand the work of the Long Beach-based California State University Center to Close the Opportunity Gap, including understanding the impact of school closures and adaptations to instructional practices in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. It will also help recruit, prepare, and retain teachers of color who are prepared to work in post-pandemic schools.

The city of Long Beach would receive $1.5 million to upgrade playground facilities at Silverado Park, including increased ADA accessibility, and the African American History and Culture Foundation would receive $255,815 for its STEP UP program that provides services to youth and parents.

Library late fees are barring thousands of Long Beach residents from checking out books

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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