Glendale organizations that provide homeless services can move forward with a request for $2.5 million in funding from the federal government after getting the OK from the City Council this week.
But the council may draft a letter of concern to pass along with the application to the Department of Housing and Urban Development because of new priorities the federal agency has implemented that will impact the transitional housing where local homeless people stay.
After council members approved the application, Natalie Profant-Komuro, the executive director of Glendale’s largest homeless services agency, Ascencia, asked city leaders to send the application “under protest.”
“If there’s a way to send this under protest, I’d recommend you do that,” Profant-Komuro said. “I’m really concerned.”
As part of the application, the Salvation Army and Ascencia plan to transform their transitional housing programs into permanent ones, in an attempt to guarantee HUD funding for their projects.
HUD has prioritized permanent housing — programs that do not have a deadline — for funding because officials there have found that a homeless person who can stay in a housing program without being pushed out because of a deadline are less likely to return to the streets in the future.
But there will be many hurdles ahead, Profant-Komuro said, adding that under the current rules for permanent-housing funding, agencies must document repeated homelessness for up to a year and show that an adult in a household has a disability.
Many of Ascencia’s clients may suffer from mental illness, but they may not want to admit they are disabled. In addition, Ascencia will have a 45-day window to document that disability, and families with children with disabilities will not be eligible for the altered program, she said.
“We know that this is all shared pain and we’ll just muddle through it,” Profant-Komuro said, but she called on the council to communicate her concerns to HUD or to local congressional representatives.
The council plans to discuss drafting the letter of concern next month and Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she plans to take a trip to meet with political leaders on Capitol Hill and would be happy to bring up these issues with any congressional members she meets.
The shift to permanent housing isn’t the only change homeless services agencies must deal with as they turn in a strategic application aimed at meeting all of HUD’s priorities. The funding proposal also does not request money for programs that solely provide supportive services — such as the Salvation Army’s child care for the homeless — as HUD is shifting away from funding supportive services.
Instead, the application asks for $245,000 in rapid rehousing funds. However, there is a chance the city’s request for $2.5 million may be cut by 5% as Congress has tightened HUD’s funding, leaving that $250,000 line-item on the cutting-room floor.
Nonprofit leaders have said they plan to look elsewhere, such as private foundation grants and their own fundraising, to cover the gap left by HUD dropping their funding of supportive services.