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Groups give pitch for funds

SOUTHWEST GLENDALE — More than 30 people Thursday night made their case to city officials for either sustaining or increasing recommendations for federal funds to community service organizations that in January felt the effects of leaner financial times.

About half of the 25 nonprofits that submitted requests to the city for federal funds for the next fiscal year saw their recommended allocations reduced Jan. 31, when the city’s Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee finalized its annual review.

Deliberations were made more difficult this year because Glendale saw its annual funding pool from the federal Department of Urban Housing and Development for community service programs shrink 3.3%, to $503,000, but at the same time the city received $1.15 million in requests for the funds.

“It just gets harder and harder,” said Jess Duran, assistant director of the city’s Community Development and Housing Department.

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On Thursday, it was clear that competition for the money has not diminished ahead of April 8, when the City Council is scheduled to deliberate — and perhaps change — the recommendations before making them final.

Comments given at Thursday’s meeting to community development officials will be attached to the advisory committee’s recommendations.

Of the 14 people who spoke, six were in favor of maintaining the $45,000 allotment for New Horizons Family Center, a nonprofit that provides comprehensive child care and development services to mostly low-income children in south Glendale.

In January, the advisory committee slashed its recommended funding to $30,000 after the majority of the members agreed that the established center was in a better position to find other grant sources and weather the storm than smaller, more nascent groups.

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That move has prompted the center’s founder and executive director, Maria Rochart, to initiate a coordinated lobbying effort among her clients and other supporters who have signed petitions, sent letters and spoken at public meetings in favor of restoring the recommended funding level.

Many of the speakers were lower-income moms who said they depended on New Horizons for child care and other services that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, and that allow them to hold down jobs.

“People like me could never afford such a program like this,” said Ester Garcia, whose son is enrolled at the center. “Hopefully, the funds will stay.”

But supporters of other programs made their cases as well, all highlighting their respective contributions to the community, be it homeless services, graffiti removal, after-school programs or in-school counseling.

The more than $16,000 recommended for the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter’s ongoing capital improvement projects will increase its capacity to serve an additional 200 to 250 youths a year, supporters said.

A recommended $20,000 allotment to the Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools — which serves any referral — will allow group counseling programs at Columbus Elementary to expand to another school, said the committee’s executive director, Arsineh Hovannisian.

At the same time, a decision to contribute none of the funds to the city’s graffiti removal program irked others, who warned that, if left unabated, the tagging would lead to a “downward spiral” in some neighborhoods despite the efforts of volunteers to clean it up.

“We’re not professionals — we don’t have the equipment,” said Arnold Milner, chairman of the city’s Committee for a Clean and Beautiful Glendale.

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A $5,000 cut in recommended funding for PATH Achieve’s homeless outreach services also drew one last pitch from the nonprofit’s executive director, Natalie Profant-Komuro, who said reduced funding would harm a unique program to address the most “service resistant” transients.

The impassioned pleas for support might not fall on deaf ears, with the City Council in previous years deciding to use general funds to supplement those programs that saw reduced recommendations, like the temporary skilled worker center across from the Home Depot on San Fernando Road.

The center again failed to clinch a funding recommendation this year from the advisory committee.

Even with the committee’s work on the recommendation complete, several attended the meeting Thursday to remind program supporters of the difficulty of subjective allocation of limited funds.

“This job is not a slam dunk .?.?.? especially when it comes to vital services,” the block grant committee’s vice-chairman, Gary Cornell, told the audience.

The City Council and Housing Authority are expected to hear one more round of similar pitches when they consider final allocations at their April 8 meetings.


?JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.


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