At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., announced her support for 10 community projects allowed for consideration by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee in appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year.
This year marks the first time that members of Congress have been able to submit specific community projects for direct funding in more than a decade thanks to the return of earmarks on Capitol Hill. Castor said she is advocating for the 10 projects based upon community support and pressing local needs – from improving water quality to providing mental health services to aiding in the fight against cancer.
“I received over 30 requests from partners throughout Florida’s 14th Congressional District for a range of local initiatives to serve the needs of our neighbors and boost our economy, and while it was difficult to whittle down to the allowed 10 projects, they would provide critical funding for local initiatives. I’m proud to select 10 projects that represent the diversity of needs in our community – from East Tampa to Town ‘N Country to the University Area. The entire Tampa/Hillsborough district is represented in these funding requests,” Castor said on Friday.
“As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to invest in good-paying jobs and our local educators. USF’s proposal will enhance STEM teacher preparation and strengthen the pipeline of well-qualified educators in Hillsborough County Public Schools. The local community stood up for a stronger USF College of Education last year, and I am proud to follow on the call for action,” Castor added. “The Urban League of Hillsborough County’s Hand Up program will link students with training and paid pre-apprenticeship initiatives in fields like solar energy deployment and hospitality that provide direct pathways to higher-paying, stable jobs that you can raise a family on.
“In Congress, I am working to reform police practices like consistent use of body cameras, and am heartened to see the City of Tampa and local law enforcement doing the same. We need funding for the technology and tools for Tampa Police Department to expand use of body-worn cameras and data retention. Often the data must be evaluated as quickly as possible at the scene of an incident to ensure transparency and accountability,” Castor continued. “I’m pleased to support three projects aimed directly at lifting up and connecting our diverse Tampa communities. The Fair Oaks Senior Center Redevelopment will provide Tampa seniors with vital services to keep them healthy and independent, and the University Area Community Development Corporation, Inc. cultural campus warehouse will connect neighbors with valuable services and initiatives to improve their quality of life. The past year has underscored the importance of having access to stable and high-speed internet, and funding for the Tampa Housing Authority will increase in-home, reliable internet for residents of affordable housing in Tampa. These initiatives will drive our economy, keep our neighbors plugged-in, and modernize local infrastructure.
“In the days ahead, the House Appropriations Committee will review the submissions of all projects from House members – I am committed to advocating for these projects until they are completed,” she said in conclusion.
A summary of the ten projects is provided below, in alphabetical order:
AI/Machine Learning to Accelerate Cancer Research – H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute
This funding will be used to leverage already existing data and allow scientists at Moffitt to translate greater understanding of the complexities of cancer into novel prevention, early detection and treatment to help improve outcomes for cancer patients throughout the U.S.
Connectivity for Prosperity – Tampa Housing Authority
This project will increase access to in-home reliable and high-speed internet in Tampa affordable housing communities, opening additional opportunities for education and training, employment and communication with medical providers, cultural groups and world events.
COPS Technology Enhancements (Digital Storage of Body Cam footage) – the City of Tampa
The new technology that will be acquired by this funding will provide the tools needed to improve access to body worn camera data for Tampa Police Department staff and the public, and will ensure that critical data is uploaded and evaluated as quickly as possible at the scene of an incident.
Cultural Campus Warehouse Renovation and Site Work – University Area Community Development Corporation, Inc.
This site in the University Area will serve as a hub connecting community residents with anchored partners who will provide services and initiatives to improve the quality of life for area neighbors.
Enhancing STEM Teacher Preparation in the Tampa Bay region – the University of South Florida
The funding would be used to prepare STEM teachers and creating a pipeline of STEM teachers to Hillsborough County Public Schools and other local school districts.
Fair Oaks Redevelopment Senior Center – the City of Tampa
This project will connect Tampa seniors with vital community services that help them stay healthy and independent as well as provide them with access to inclusive culture programs.
The Hand Up Program – the Urban League of Hillsborough County, Inc
This funding will help engage students who age out of school to link them with training and paid pre-apprenticeship initiatives in the Tampa Bay area.
Mariposa Women’s Neuropsychiatric Hospital – Mental Health Care, Inc (Gracepoint)
This project will fund 24 additional psychiatric beds for women in our community to address a significant shortfall in capacity and provide critically needed psychiatric services to thousands of women annually.
Tampa Harbor General Reevaluation Report – Port Tampa Bay
Port Tampa Bay is a critical economic engine for the region, responsible (in 2019) for a $17.2 billion impact and supporting more than 85,000 direct and indirect jobs. A deeper draft will enable Port Tampa Bay to sustain the continued growth in global commerce, therefore furthering
economic development and jobs growth for west central Florida and the State of Florida.
Town N’ Country Septic-to-Sewer – Hillsborough County
This project will fund the replacement of legacy septic tanks to increase water quality in our community.