New Haven, Conn. – The Board of Alderman voted this month to allocate $25,000 in federal funds for a nonprofit to renovate its building despite the organization’s links to the Communist Party USA.
Connecticut taxpayers will contribute an additional $300,000 if the State Bond Commission votes as expected to approve the funding Monday.
According to city records, the New Haven People’s Center needs $302,420 to fix its building, 37 Howe St. Two-thirds of the money will go toward masonry repairs. The center also plans to repair its roof, install new windows and upgrade its heating system.
If the center receives both the city and state funding, it will have more than $20,000 left over after completing its renovations.
The People’s Center is run by Progressive Education and Research Associates, a nonprofit headed by officials in the Connecticut chapter of the Communist Party USA.
Joelle Fishman is coordinator of the center and chairman of the state Communist Party. She is also the Connecticut correspondent for People’s World, the Communist Party USA newspaper, which houses a local bureau at the New Haven People’s Center.
The group’s Communist ties are well-known by state officials.
“I know that Joelle Fishman is a Communist,” Office of Policy and Management Undersecretary Gian-Carl Casa said in an email.
“I once saw her handing out The Daily Worker on the Green and asked her if it had classified ads for jackboots,” Casa said, referring to the footwear of totalitarian regimes. “She wasn’t amused.”
Despite being prepared to spend $300,000 plus interest to fund renovations at the center, the state has no documentation to support the grant because it is a legislative earmark supported by state Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven.
The $25,000 in federal funding comes in the form of a Community Development Block Grant, a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD’s website describes CDBG as “a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.”
The agency is expected to give more than $3.5 billion in block grants this year.
New Haven is considering another $50,000 in funding, but it has not identified a funding source yet, according to a spokesman.