Federal block grant fund amount still shrinking

A trend that has seen federal grants for social services in Glendale decreasing in the past several years looks to be continuing.

The Jewel City expects to get $1.8 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for fiscal year 2014-15, down from $2 million last year and $2.5 million the year prior. In 2011-12, the city got $3.4 million.

Nonprofits that rely on the federal grants to help serve their clientele, such as the Armenian Relief Society and Ascencia, Glendale's largest homeless services agency, are working to deal with this new reality.

“We're trying to plan ahead for next year. We've decided to be a little conservative on our projections so we don't get surprised,” said Efrain Olivares, chair of the Community Development Block Grant Commission.

Olivares said the commission, which approved the funding plan Wednesday, will have to pinpoint the nonprofits that are best able to stretch their shrinking allocations.

“We're going to look more carefully at their ability to use the funds,” Olivares said, adding that commissioners understand that nonprofits are still struggling to bounce back from the protracted recession.

For the upcoming year, the city expects to hand out $263,000 to nonprofits, a drop from $272,000 last year and $296,000 the year before that. In 2011-12, Glendale gave nearly twice those amounts, $446,000, to nonprofits. The remaining funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development are spent on the city's own administration costs — capped at 20% of the total — and city projects.

Commissioners also decided to cut back $10,000 from the city's code enforcement, bringing that allocation down to $376,000. Code enforcement officials respond to complaints about hoarders, unkempt lawns and other neighborhood issues. About $885,000, down from $1.1 million last year, is to be spent on pre-designated city projects, including code enforcement and improvements to Palmer Park.

Nonprofits who apply for the funding are expected to be interviewed by the commission in February, Olivares said.

At a September public outreach meeting at Horace Mann Elementary School, about 52 participants said programs for at-risk youth, after-school activities, senior services and employment were the most needed. In the past, the commission has prioritized senior, school and homeless services.

According to a city report, 11% of people in Glendale are below the poverty line, higher than Burbank's 6% and Pasadena's roughly 10%. About 20% of families living south of Broadway were below the poverty level.

As of 2013, a household of one lived below the poverty line if they made under $11,490 annually. For a family of eight, the income cap was $39,630, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.


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


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