Nonprofits lose out in lean funding year

It came down to a battle among senior services, Armenian nonprofits and a family counseling center as the City Council divvied up a smaller pool of federal grants Tuesday.

In the end, senior services won.

Every year, the city gets funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help pay for community social services that address the underserved. For fiscal year 2012-13, funding was cut 35%, leaving the city with just $296,000 despite having received nearly two dozen requests totaling about $1 million.

The Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee issued its funding recommendations a few months ago, sending them to the council for final approval.

Councilmen Rafi Manoukian and Ara Najarian wanted to cut $30,000 from city-administered senior and youth services and distribute it equally to the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools and the Ark Family Center.

The Armenian Relief Society's recommended funding had been cut by 35% to $38,000. The Committee for Armenian Students and Ark Family Center, which both focus on youth counseling, had their funding cut to zero from roughly $26,000 and $11,450, respectively.

But the majority on the council chose to stick with the advisory committee's recommendations.

“There are a number of programs that are very effective that didn't get funding,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “It's hard at this point to start reallocating.”

Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran said that if the council cut $20,000 from senior services, about 50 fewer home-bound seniors could receive case management.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she wanted to give more money to the Armenian nonprofits, but the impact to senior services was untenable.

“It's very difficult and painful to see this money reduced,” she said.

More than 50 Armenians who use the Armenian Relief Society's senior life skills and English classes packed council chambers in support of changing the allocations.

“With an ever-growing need for our services demonstrated by the community, a reduction of this sort will be detrimental,” said Sona Zinzalian, who spoke on behalf of the Armenian Relief Society.

Laura Atoian, a board member for the Committee for Armenian Students, said being cut off from funding completely was a shock, adding that the program takes in all referrals, the majority of which are not Armenian, who have self-control and academic responsibility issues.

“There just isn't as much money to go around,” said Councilman Dave Weaver. “We're getting less and less, and that's coming from Washington — it's not us.”

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