Officials to review grant list

CITY HALL — Sixteen social-service programs stand to gain a combined $487,920 in federal grant funding under a list of recommendations to be evaluated Tuesday in a joint meeting of the City Council and Housing Authority.

The Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee settled on the recommendations in February after hours of arduous review, site visits and testimony from program administrators competing for the federal funds.

It was at this point last year that the list was put through the political wringer when some nonprofit agencies, unhappy with the committee’s recommendations, lobbied the City Council to alter the final allotments.

And an e-mail sent from one of the committee members to the City Council advocating for similar adjustments, despite him joining in the unanimous recommendations, sparked political outcry at City Hall.

None of that has transpired this time around.

“Given the current economic situation, I think [to lobby for more money] would just be bad [public relations],” said Zareh Amirian, chairman of the advisory committee. “I think everyone understands these organizations need the money at nearly the same level as other organizations.”

The 16 programs in the running for funding include PATH Achieve Glendale, the Armenian Relief Society, the Housing Rights Center and the Glendale Youth Alliance among others.

Nonprofit agencies, up against a bleak fundraising environment, have been struggling to cover operating expenses, let alone keep up with increased demand for services from residents who have fallen prey to the recession.

Competition for the limited amount of grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was shaping up to be even more brutal than last year until several regularly funded nonprofits announced they would not compete, freeing up more dollars for other more “desperate” organizations.

Their exit allowed the advisory committee to actually increase the recommended funding levels for nine of the 10 community programs that re-applied for this year. The other six applicants are city-run programs.

Still, with more than $1 million in requests, some applicants were left empty-handed.

An arts reading program, a youth media course and an English language support network all lost out to a broad consensus among elected officials this year that, with the recession battering low-income families, so-called “frontline” nonprofits should be given special consideration for funds.

Reports of demand jumping 40% for food and bill assistance at Loaves and Fishes on San Fernando Road was indicative of the rising need for agencies that serve low-income residents and clients.

With last year’s political fiasco in mind, advisory committee members referred repeatedly to the City Council’s direction in February to focus on those agencies that serve those most impacted by the recession.

Of the funding recommendations this year, 77% are for nonprofits, with the remainder tagged for city-sponsored programs, such as youth activities and senior meals.

While the list hasn’t generated the type of political discourse of years past, Councilman Frank Quintero said the council still reserved the right to alter the final figures.

“We have a broader perspective of the needs of the city,” he said.

The City Council and Housing Authority will also jointly consider a funding recommendation from the advisory committee on how to allocate $2.46 million in federal capital improvement funds.

Building improvement projects for the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter, New Horizons Family Center, Roosevelt Middle School and a community service center for Glendale Adventist Medical Center all received full funding in a category that included a predesignated $1.5-million earmark for the planned community pool at Pacific Park.


 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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