Persistent money troubles are forcing the tiny City of Angels Hospice in Hollywood to close early next month, although directors of the 4-year-old agency say they hope to reopen after regaining their financial footing.
"We need to kind of regroup," said Joyce Green, the new executive director of the six-bed hospice. The hospice's board of directors voted last week to suspend operations after months of financial difficulties exacerbated by the recession. With only about a quarter of its annual $750,000 budget provided by government sources, the agency has had to raise the rest from foundation grants and private donors.
"It was getting more and more difficult and we were borrowing money from other agencies to keep going," said board president Chuck Cheeld.
In August the agency held a fund-raiser that actually lost money. While subsequent efforts were more successful, the hospice is about $100,000 in debt, Cheeld said. Nonetheless, the board is thinking of launching a campaign to raise money to expand the hospice to 12 beds and renovate it to meet state Medi-Cal standards. By so doing, the hospice could become eligible for Medi-Cal funding, greatly reducing its reliance on private donations for day-to-day operations.
Cheeld said the city Community Redevelopment Agency has promised $400,000 of the approximately $500,000 needed for the expansion.
The hospice started operating out of a three-bedroom house on North Las Palmas Avenue in 1988 and has since cared for about 180 people, most of them with AIDS. Current patients will be moved after Christmas to other hospices.
The shortage of money at City of Angels is not unique. Nonprofit organizations in general are feeling the crunch of the recession, and AIDS agencies in Los Angeles County are competing for a limited pool of dollars. Earlier this year Northern Lights, a small AIDS service agency, shut down, and Project Angel Food weathered a financial crisis, closing its counseling program to concentrate on meal delivery to homebound AIDS patients.