Forecast is gloomy for grant funds

As the annual application period for federal grant money begins, city officials say there will be less to distribute than last year, even as nonprofits grapple with increased demand for the very services the money helps pay for.

Each year, Glendale receives millions of dollars through the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which supplements local community services targeted mostly to low-income clients. This fiscal year, the city received about $3 million to distribute to local nonprofits — 17% less than the prior year.

But that funding is expected to be cut another 14% for next fiscal year, although the exact figure won’t be known for a few more months, Moises Carrillo, senior community development supervisor, said during a City Hall presentation last week.

Funding applications are due Dec. 22.

“The budget’s changing minute by minute, hour by hour,” he said, adding that the funding cuts have been the worst he’s seen in years.

The city plans to help as many groups as it can, but with less money to divvy up, agencies may get smaller pieces of the pie.

“When I was in Washington, I heard more draconian cuts are on the way,” Mayor Laura Friedman said, adding that they could climb to around 35%.

Leaders of community groups that received the federal grants in the past said the announcement doesn’t bode well for the needy people they help.

“We got cut last year from the year before. It’s unfortunately the trend right now,” said Sandy Doughty, executive director of Glendale Assn. for the Retarded. “The funding is being cut, but we’re expected to maintain the same quality of service.”

Drops in government funding have pushed groups such as Club JAM, an after-school program for low-income students at Grandview Presbyterian Church, and Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, which provides social services such as job placement and English training, to lay off staff.

“Instead of us being able to aid people and get them out of the trench that they’re in, it causes us to put people into that trench by laying them off,” said Armenian Relief Society Chairwoman Nyree Derderian, adding that staff salaries are primarily paid for by grants.

The organizations will be forced to find funding elsewhere, leaders said, but it’s looking like there are fewer places to turn. Some of the groups also receive grants through Los Angeles County that trickle down from the federal government, but those will likely also be reduced.

Derderian said her group will have to increase community fundraising efforts in an attempt to make up the difference and perhaps go into debt.

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