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February 18, 1979 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-18
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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Febi

Page 4-Sunday, February 18, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Model Cities: Supporting soca

serv ices in an era of


D ARTANYA, SHIMIKA, and four other
children stood just inside the bright, spa-
cious. playroom of the Model Cities Child
Care Center. "Who are they?" one of the children.
asked, pointing unabashedly at the two small dark-
eyedfigures peering back at them from outside the

By Amy Saltzman

playroom. The newcomers stood stiffly bundled in hand, and led her into the colorful world of finger not afford a private dentist and was miles from the
winter attire, clutching their complacent father. paintings, wooden puzzles, and Lincoln logs. people at the Model Cities Dental Clinic. Although
"They'll be joining us here next week," explained Forty miles away in the heart of Detroit, a man not fond of going to any dentist, he longed to be near
one of the instructors. And Dartanya, eager to make grimaced, trying to withstand the throbbing pain. the white house at 704 Spring in Ann Arbor; though
a new aquaintance, boldly walked up to the three- radiating from his decaying tooth. Although the quarters were cramped, he could be assured of good
year old girl half-hiding behind her father, took her pain was increasing he was helpless, for he could dental care from people who understood his finan-
facial situation. It is no wonder the man had come to.
11 gM _ eped ontheclinic.
deA few short blocks from the clinic, an anxious old
woman deftly opened the cracked door on which
" "Model Cities Legal Services" is roughly carved. A'
climb up the narrow staircase revealed drafty of-
~v ~ fices displaying a distinctly casual ambience for a
legal firm. But this firm is composed of public defen-
ders, and there is nothing casual about the
"''."' x caseload-each attorney handles 130-150 clients
u engaged in a variety of civil and criminal suits.
. ,a. These three components of Ann Arbor's 20-branch
public-service network are leftovers of Lyndon
Johnson's Great Society program of the late sixties,
and were the principle providers of refuge for the
x city's needy until programs were juggled on the
national level in the early seventies. From its incep-
tion in 1969, the network has been extended and
diversified since Model Cities was spliced into the
- - new federal mainline: Community Development
Block Grants (CDBG). Ann Arbor's Model Cities
was only kept alive by a provision in its successor
authorizing legislation permitting continued sup-
port which was to gradually dwindle to the baseline
In stepped CDBG in 1975, with a broader mandate
which melded physical and social services along
with administrative and funding sources under the
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) umbrella. Now the funds have been rolled
back to the sparse annual entitlement of $1.6
million, a cut from last year's $1.9 million. The cut-
backs have incited political and administrative con-
troversy as well as fierce competition for funds.
Ann Arbor has never been considered a poverty-
stricken community. In fact, the affluent home of
the University of Michigan was for a long time con-
sidered no more than a suburb of Detroit. With a
history of crippling strikes, riots, and labels like
"murder city," it was assumed that the decaying ur-
ban centers demanded more aid and attention. As
expected, the majority of the'federal funds funneled
into Michigan during the late sixties and early
seventies went to the ailing motor city.-
Even though Ann Arbor's social service needs
could not compare in magnitude with Detroit's, they
were no less real. But the city had to convince
federal bureaucrats that it had all the problems of a
modern day urban center. The some 4,500
household presently benefiting from Model Cities-
services alone indicate that needs existed then and
remain. This city's- airtight housing market which
drives up land values and tax assessments to their
present plateau puts even the median income
family in a budgetary bind. But living here places a
:E -much larger burden on the needy. Residents are
eligible for CDBG services if the head of the
( household (family of four) does not earn more than
$16,000 per year, or 80 per cent of Ann Arbor's
median of $20,000 for that sized family.
A visible yet still undocumented number of the
a city's poor are leaving for parts of the county such
as Ypsilanti, where housing costs are more
reasonable; either that, or they move, into
cooperative or public housing units within the city
limits. Another requirement of Model}Cities and all
CDBG facilities is that the residents served live
-within the target area-a specific census tract. Ac-
The Model Cities Health Clinic was the pioneer of social services in Ann Arbor. The Summit Medical cording to federal mandate,-67 per cent of the ser-
Center began under Model Cities funding and was able to operate independently after less than a year...
The Dental Clinic, which is in the same building, contliie'd t'o ftaetion'with Model Cities support. A my Saltzman is a Daily city reporter. a

vice recipients must resde in the vicinity of the cen-
ters, and 75 per cent must qualify as low-income.
The CDBG population area served by Model
Cities is composed primarily of residents from the
northeast section of the city, where 12,000
households are eligible for benefits. The facilities
were placed in that region of the city because, when
the programs were initiated in 1969, most of the
city's low-income citizens lived there.
More recently, the funds have been distributed to
includeCDBG facilities on the old north side and in
the southeastern region of the city. The scope of
services has broadened and medical clinics,
recreational centers, along with neighborhood,
handicapped, and senior citizens services are being
provided. Child care scholarships and youth em-
ployment programs have also been created to keep
up with changing needs.
Recognition of needs spurred the establishment of
the original Model Cities program. "For a long time
it was almost impossible for blacks to get dental
care in Ann Arbor-dentists just wouldn't take
them," said former Mayor Albert Wheeler. Con-
sequently, the Model Cities clinic provided many
receive dental care. "Many of the people who come
here have never been to a dentist before,"
Photos by
Maureen O'Malley
said the former mayor's wife, Emma, who clairs
the Dental Clinic's board. "They are often afraid
and need people who are understanding."
The clinic focuses on socializing the patient to
dental care, in addition to cleaning teeth and filling
cavities. In order to instill a positive attitude in the
patients and to convince them of the need for per-
sistent dental care, clinic personnel may patiently
permit young newcomers to ride up and down in the
dentist's chair, and to talk and play with the dentist.
Staffers frequently adopt the role of baby sitter,'
providing toys and permitting children to observe
others receiving treatment.
According to Emma Wheeler and the rising
patient load, the Dental Clinic has been successful.
But constant financial woes have stifled the clinic's
development. Although it receives 71 per cent of its
total annual income of $204,000 from CDBG funds,
recent across-the-board cuts in funding have
strained operations. To meet rising costs, the clinic
has had to use the little money it receives from
sliding scale fees and other minimal outside sources
which are based on the patient's ability to pay. "We
have had to use all of our income just to keep the
program running," said Wheeler. "This keeps us
from building up the program, but it's better than
cutting back on the quality of service." For some
patients, there is no charge. But the current fianan-
cial'situation may necessitate changes in that area
One of the major obstructions to the Dental
Clinic's growth has been the aging structure which
houses it. Last March, the clinic's director, Doretta
Taylor, pleaded with City Council for an increase in
funding ard a more modern facility: "Each year I
come down and plead for re-funding and for a new
building. We have been turned down for various and
a sundry political reasons. This is a political foot-
When Republican Mayor Louis Belcher came to
office last April, few people suspected that Taylor's
pleas for a new facility would be answered in the
near future. As of January 30, however, plans for a
new dental clinic were approved, The final site
plans for the project will go to the Planning Com-
mission this month and then to City Council in Mar-
ch. According to Laurie Wargelin, director of the
local CDBG program, $200,000 has been reserved
for the new building, and ground should be broken
.this June for a new dental clinic on the corner of
'Kingsley and Ashley, Council permitting.

The Model Cities Child Care Center, like many local social service providers, faces grim financial straits if enrollment continues

The Model Cities Legal Services program has
not been quite so fortunate in the area of physical
renewal. Although the Legal Services staff has been
negotiating for a new building to replace their
cramped and drafty quarters, plans for a new
facility have been scrapped by the city. But the
people at Legal Services refuse to let a less than
ideal physical environment hamper their services.
The firm is accustomed to operating with its back
against the wall. For the first six months of 1975,
when CDBG had completely replaced Model Cities
funding, the firm received virtually no federal
money. "We kept alive anyway," said Nancy
Wheeler Francis, the Legal Services director, "and
they funded us again." Since that time, the firm,
which has been in existence since 1972, has ex-
perienced a substantial boost in clientele. "We are a
small law firm with an extremely heavy case load,
-that has a public responsibility," explained Francis.

HE FIRM represents low and moderate
income people in Washtenaw County and
charges.on a sliding fee basis. The bulk of
the cases involve CDBG residents, but the
program is supplemented by fees from people out-
side the CDBG area. The Legal Services program is
the only operation in the area that provides services
for moderate income people with a public subsidy.
Currently, 72 per cent of the program's $159,000 an-
nual income comes from CDBG.
Providing services to such a comparably wide
range of people has enabled the firm to maintain an
adequate level of funding, according to Francis:
"The courts and clients are satisfied with the work
we're doing, so how can the city cut back our fun-
ds?" Attaining a respectable reputation has led
Francis to believe support for legal services no
longer depends on political maneuverings.
The group of little boys who carefully stack blocks

in the corner of the Mod
playroom are oblivious
the politics and cutbacl
subsidized by the Depa
which pays a bare minin
must be stretched to
children. Support fri
Agriculture and Food I
fees supplement the 31
come provided by C
average all-day fee ha
$7.00 to $7.50, CDBG fur
$30,000 over the past tw
now almost at capacit
children from 40 househe
Two years ago, Belcl
claims that needs are di
that with an enrollment
that the program neede'
getting." Since then the
the center is expected to
of funding through outsi<
Councilwoman Leslie
thinks the cutbacks will
services provided. "I'n
Care Center. It has ha(
funding and the rent the
munity Center is high.'
backs will force services
Ten years have p
recognized Ann Arbor';
were introduced here. 'I
appendage of Johnson's
did not arrive here until I
the wane and Nixon ha(
Nixon's lack of interes
social programs, CDE
greater discretion in sp
ts. Many observers fe,
their budgetary autono
from social needs and R
Model- Cities was run
from the beginning, anc
starting in 1975. Under
seemed to have been ri
funds were rolled back
sustenance The progra
social service allocation
some say, it has stagnat
has been unable to meet
Wheeler, who was v
Cities board for several
He claimed that "the N
limping when CDBG to
the present situation is
are currently dying of ti
Regardless of such
grams display the syr
dividuals are now bei
funding sources have t1
vices possible despite
See MO

Model Cities Legal Services offers a growing number of low and middle income county residents access
to the judicial system without prohibitive costs.

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