Glendale's largest homeless services provider forced to look elsewhere for funds

For Ascencia, Glendale’s largest homeless services provider, the end of redevelopment could mean an annual loss of $50,000 through 2015.

Ascencia has a contract with Glendale’s Redevelopment Agency for $50,000 each fiscal year through 2015 to help fund an emergency housing program. But with redevelopment agencies dissolved under a state-imposed plan, Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro said she’s not counting on the money.

“It’s a serious loss of money and we’re going to need to figure out how to fill the gap,” she said.

On Feb. 1, Glendale and 400 other redevelopment agencies in California ceased to exist after the state Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature was within its rights to eliminate the agencies to fill a budget shortfall. The incrementally higher property taxes they generated that once helped pay for projects such as the Americana at Brand, Disney’s Creative Campus and affordable housing units will instead go to schools and other public agencies.

Although the city’s redevelopment agency is no longer operating, the city may be allowed to use property taxes to pay off existing obligations. The city has put its contract with Ascencia on its list of obligations through June, but Profant Komuro said she was unsure of what’s going to happen in the years ahead.

The list of obligations must still be approved by an oversight board and the state Department of Finance.

“There’s so much uncertainty right now, I think the best thing for us is to expect the worst-case scenario,” said Profant Komuro.

The end of redevelopment has prompted Ascencia to change its fundraising strategies. The organization gets more than 75% of its funding through government grants, but it is working on drumming up more private donations.

That means more fundraising year-round for Ascencia, which typically seeks donations in September and around the winter holidays.

“Too many people still don’t know what we do here,” Profant Komuro said, noting that people think of Skid Row before they think of Glendale, when it comes to homelessness.

Although the Obama administration is proposing a 17% increase in money available for homeless assistance for a total of $4.7 billion in its 2013 budget, Profant Komuro said government funding for other services is down.

Federal homeless funding may stay the same or increase, but the affordable housing vouchers and mental health programs to which Ascencia refers its homeless clients continue to feel the pinch.

“Everything else is getting cut,” Profant Komuro said. “We’re taking on more in our system.”

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