Despite protests that the city is turning its back on some of its neediest residents, the City Council has dropped funding for local agencies that provide shelter and treatment to the homeless, mentally ill and drug addicts.
Before the vote Monday, speakers criticized and praised recommendations by staff for the annual Community Partnerships Granting program. Many of the comments concerned a move that favors youth- and senior-oriented programs and excludes many services that have had city support for years.
In a 6-1 vote with City Councilwoman Donna De Paola opposed, the council accepted two-year funding requests totaling $420,000. Agencies whose requests were approved said the new process adopted by the council in March allowed for greater competition.
Critics, however, say their proposals were unfairly dropped midstream.
"We objected to the decision that somewhere in the midst of the program, the homeless and persons with substance abuse problems were excluded," said Clyde Reynolds, executive director of Turning Point Foundation, a nonprofit agency that provides shelter and services to the mentally ill. "Somewhere in the process the rules changed."
Besides leaving a hole in his budget, Reynolds, who requested $40,000, said that being cut off from city funds makes it more difficult for his agency to attract federal matching funds.
City officials said it wasn't until halfway through the process that the homeless, mentally ill and drug treatment programs were excluded.
The change came after more than $100,000 to help the homeless was requested by various organizations, said Jim Walker, community services director. Staff members decided, Walker said, that those programs are better left to the county.
"The county is required by state law to fund homeless programs, and it is better leveraged to get state and federal funding," Walker said.