San Francisco (Obama.net)- Sharif El-Gamal raised a lot of eyebrows months ago when he first announced his plans to construct an Islamic community center and mosque in New York City. The site of construction is set to be in Lower Manhattan, just blocks away from where the World Trade Center came crashing down after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Now even more people are getting uncomfortable with the situation as El-Gamal is asking for funding from a federal program intended to finance the reconstruction of the community around the center of the 9/11 attacks.
The funding has been requested from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) under the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
El-Gamal said that “Park51 (the name of his project) has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant,” and that the money would partly “fund social service programs such as domestic violence programs, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multicultural art exhibits, and immigration services.”
However, the LMDC has a lot of people seeking to get funding from them. A total of 265 different groups have applied for over $175 million. Unfortunately, the program only has $17 million to distribute.
Avi Schick of the program said “we are now turning to the challenging, but important task of sorting through the applications to identify those that address long-standing community and cultural needs.”
History of benefiting the community in Manhattan, creating jobs, financial viability, and revitalizing the community are the factors that applicants will be evaluated on to determine if they receive a grant, which can be anywhere from $100,000 to one million dollars.
The LMDC is known for providing funding to schools, small businesses, and museums.
Based on the amount of funding and the number of applicants, it is not very likely that the reported request of $5 million for the Islamic center and mosque will be granted.
Furthermore, the decision on how to divide up the funds and who to provide with funding is not expected to be made until March of 2011.
The community center and mosque are expected to cost approximately $100 million. But, the majority of the funds have yet to be raised.
El-Gamal announced that his team “has not launched a formal fundraising program and is currently in the process of expanding its Board of Directors to place, manage, and oversee such efforts.” He said that the project should start gaining ground “in the coming weeks.”