Glendale struggles to maintain youth services amid federal grant cuts

Although Glendale has used tens of millions of dollars on capital projects that benefit youth and families in the past decade, officials say there won’t be many opportunities to continue that kind of spending in the near future.

“The city currently would not have the resources to expand any youth programs and services,” Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran said at City Hall meeting last week. “We are struggling to keep the same level of services.”

Programs such as the library’s Bookmobile, as well as case management for youth and families, have been reduced, Duran told the City Council, who were acting in their dual role as the Housing Authority.

That’s because much of the funding that pays for youth and family services comes from the federal government, which has been shrinking allocations to Glendale for years — most severely when it cut 35% of Glendale’s community development grant budget this year.

And as federal domestic spending dwindles, the city may have to backfill the gap with local dollars or continue to slash programs.

But even at the city level, money is tight. The city closed an $15.4-million budget gap this fiscal year, mostly by shrinking the workforce to the lowest since 2000.

Officials said as resources shrink at City Hall, they will be relying more on nonprofits to step in.

“As the city budget reaches its limit, the community many times steps in and helps with many of these programs,” said Councilman Ara Najarian, pointing to nonprofits such as the Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter, an Armenian athletic club.

In addition when the city couldn’t pay for the Police Activities League, which ran a boxing program for at-risk youth, the YMCA stepped in.

“It’s unfair to look at four walls of City Hall and say ‘What have you done.’ It’s only fair to look at entire community involvement,” Najarian said.

[For the Record, 12:13 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly put the budget gap at $18 million. That amount was closed in the previous fiscal year. Also, it is the Police Activities League, not the "Police Assistance League" previously referred to in this post.]

Glendale has spent about $76 million since 2002 on major capital improvements that benefit youth services, including Pacific Park Pool, artificial turf at the Glendale Sports Complex and developing Adams Square Mini-Park.

But nonprofit funding is shrinking too, as several groups known for youth and family outreach are seeing their budgets hit hard by fewer grant dollars and donations. Last year, Club Jam, an after-school tutoring program, shut down because the city couldn’t give it any community development funding from the federal government.

Still officials are trying to work with what they have. They are currently searching for a nonprofit to offer programs out of a bungalow-style office at Glendale Heritage Gardens. The organization would provide services to youth 10 to 18 years old and receive below market rent of $500, but no other financial assistance.

Despite the cutbacks, “we will continue to prioritize youth services,” Duran said.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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