The City Council this week divvied up roughly $141,000 in federal grants to 14 local agencies, but the amount available was far less than what was requested.
It’s now a five-year-old story: the amount of federal Community Development Block Grant funding Burbank gets is well below what local nonprofit and social service agencies request. This year, the total requested in grant applications was $428,000.
The pool of federal grants set aside for Burbank decreased 5% this year, ramping up competition among applicants. Dozens of community members representing the groups competing for a share of the funds flocked to City Hall on Tuesday to plead their case.
Burbank resident Sharon Goff said she and her 10 brothers and sisters grew up attending the Burbank Coordinating Council campership program.
“When I was younger, my family didn’t have a lot of money,” Goff said, adding that at camp, she learned how to ride a horse and make crafts. “It was a wonderful new world and I loved it.”
The Coordinating Council was allocated $1,836 out of the $5,000 it requested to run its camp.
Robert Miranda, a self-described “success story” of Family Promise, said the agency helped him go from homeless and unemployed to working full-time in two months.
“When a parent doesn’t have to focus on where they’re going to sleep tonight with their children, or where they’re going to eat, they can focus on other things,” said Mary Adney, vice president of the local Family Promise chapter.
The group was awarded $6,361 out of the $20,000 it requested.
With so little grant funding to spread around, the story was much of the same for other applicants.
The City Council approved $39,251 for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, which requested $97,000 to provide services for the homeless, and $20,314 for the Family Service Agency, which had requested $50,000 for its housing project for victims of domestic violence.
Other groups awarded funding include the Boys and Girls Club, which received $13,123 of the $47,840 it requested, and the Armenian Relief Society, which received $2,342 of the $10,730 it requested.
The City Council also doled out $612,000 in federal funds for several capital projects, including $307,770 — the full amount requested — for the Armenian Cultural Foundation to construct an indoor basketball court and gym at the Burbank Youth Center.
The move pleased foundation members who were competing for the funds with the Public Works Department, which had requested $1 million to fund street repairs. The department instead received roughly $153,000.
The basketball court is projected to host 200 youth a week, and will cater to low-income families living in the area, according to the foundation’s grant application.
Councilman David Gordon said the project would be a “tremendous asset to the community.”
Councilman Gary Bric agreed.
“I know we are pulling a little bit away from public works, with regards to [reconstructing] portions of certain streets in Burbank,” Bric said. “But this is a project that’s going to benefit the whole community — it’s open to the public.”
-- Alene Tchekmedyian, firstname.lastname@example.org