Ghost of New Horizons to squeeze grant funding for other nonprofits

Several community programs saw their grant funding either severely reduced or cut altogether this week. Roughly $240,000 had been allocated to a child-care facility project that never materialized, and the federal government is seeking to recoup the funds.

The city had planned to pay back the federal Community Development Block Grants over the course of three years, but federal officials have fast-tracked the repayment to two years, resulting in even fewer dollars to spread around to programs and projects aimed at improving the lives of low income residents.

The federal garnishment from Glendale’s annual funding allotment is tied to the failed child-care facility that had been planned by New Horizons, a nonprofit that served low-income families and their children.

The City Council apportioned New Horizons the federal funds even though the nonprofit had faced financial problems. Then, in 2011, New Horizons declared bankruptcy before work could be started on the new facility, spurring a new vetting process for those seeking future CDBG funds.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s decision to garnish the roughly $240,000 over two years comes as Glendale nonprofits like the Armenian Relief Society have already been grappling with a dwindling pot of CDBG funding.

The city is slated to receive fewer-then-expected CDBG grants this fiscal year — funds that are intended to pay for homeless and other quality of life services — according to a city report released at a City Hall meeting on Tuesday.

Instead of getting roughly $1.9 million in CDBG grants, the city is to get about $1.7 million. The drop is due to the New Horizons repayment and improved quality of life indicators — such as a reduced population and less poverty — in Glendale as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We took two hits,” said Councilman Ara Najarian.

That left programs such as Camp Rosie, which educates young girls about finance and government, and the city’s Youth & Family Services division, with their $10,000 in CDBG funding plucked. Improvements at Pacific and Palmer parks were reduced by about $63,000. Administrative and other costs have also been chopped.

Some of the money for the city-organized projects will be backfilled with other funds, said Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran.

The goal was to have city programs take the brunt of the damage since nonprofit leaders have complained that the city too often siphons away federal social services grant funds for its own work.

Emergency shelter grant money has also taken a hit due to an overall reduction in federal funding for the homeless. Glendale faces a 45% slash in funding, bringing money for emergency shelters down to roughly $141,000.

Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director of Ascencia, Glendale’s largest homeless services provider, said it will be even more challenging to keep people off the streets due to the changes.

“We’ll do everything we can to keep those beds going, but I have to tell you, the notice was very short,” she said.

-- Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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