Facing Loss of Funds, Danbury Hispanic Center Fights to Stay Open


Under the weight of funding irregularities from its prime source of revenue, the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury is fighting to keep its doors open. A rally was held last week and the Danbury City Council will take up the issue this Thursday.
The Danbury News Times reports, ” Years of mismanagement have plagued the Community Action Committee of Danbury [CACD]. The problems with the CACD could also cause the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury to close its doors. The director of the center, which has depended on CACD money, said it only has enough funds to stay open through Thanksgiving.”
The center’s director, Ingrid Alvarez-DiMarzo, told the Danbury News Times the CACD recently canceled its $88,000 contract with the center and stopped payments on $43,000 the center received annually from the CACD for translation services. That money, Alvarez-DiMarzo said, makes up 60 percent of the center’s operating budget. Alvarez-DiMarzo did not return calls and messages for comments about the situation.
CACD receives the money from the state and subcontracts out the services to the center, which provides assistance to more than 5,000 people in the community with the money helping them to apply for food stamps and other programs.
According to Danbury Patch.com, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and City Council President Joe Cavo said during a rally in support of the Hispanic Center they will sort out the financial problems facing the Hispanic Center. “As long as I’m mayor of this city we’ll have the Hispanic Center,” said Boughton. “We want the center to evolve as the needs of the city evolves to serve whatever those needs are.”
Veteran Connecticut political reporter Greg Hladky describes Boughton, a former Lt. Governor candidate in 2010, as deserving of “the title of Connecticut’s leading anti-illegal-immigrant politician.” Hladky also reported, “Boughton gained national attention a few years ago for pushing local police to help federal agents round up undocumented immigrants in his city.
“In one action, Danbury cops lured immigrants in by pretending to offer them jobs, a brilliant strategy that ended up costing Danbury $400,000 when those men sued and won. Perhaps not exactly the kind of outcome that the group Boughton co-founded, ‘Mayors and Executives for Immigration Reform,’ would desire.”
The Hispanic Center was founded in July 1968 as the Hispanic Civic Center of Danbury by a group of Hispanics, mostly Puerto Ricans, who wanted to preserve their traditions and language and pass it on to the next generation. The center works with all age groups. Danbury, which has approximately 75,000 citizens, is almost 16 percent Latino according to recent statistics.