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Strapped nonprofits face more cuts

With block grant funding on the chopping block, social programs will compete for fewer federal dollars.

March 01, 2011|By Melanie Hicken,

A possible cut in federal block grant funding for the nation’s most at-risk populations has local officials and nonprofit operators bracing for the worst.

For many local nonprofits coping with dwindling donations and funding cuts, the protracted recession has already meant doing more with less.

“Everyone’s feeling the crunch of where we are,” Gayaneh Davoodians, director of the Glendale afterschool program Club JAM, said at Glendale City Hall last week. “We are just trying to do everything we can to stretch every dollar to make sure we keep going.”


Club Jam is one of 39 nonprofit and city-sponsored social service programs in Glendale and Burbank competing for a share of federal Community Development Block Grant funding intended to help the nation’s youth, seniors and poorest residents.

Both cities use the funds to support municipal projects, like the civic pool currently under construction in South Glendale, and allow local nonprofit agencies to compete for the rest.

In Glendale, 24 social service programs have requested a total $1.1 million, more than twice the $515,000 in available funding. In Burbank, 15 agencies have requested roughly $630,000 in funding, with only $200,000 available.

“There’s never enough,” said Greg Hermman, Burbank’s community development director who oversees the block grant allocation process.

The grant funding could end up even more limited as the White House and Congress work to shrink the massive federal deficit.

President Obama has proposed a 7.5% cut to Community Development Block Grant program in his budget proposal for next fiscal year. Under that scenario, Glendale, which this year was in line for $3.4 million, would lose nearly $258,000 in the city’s fiscal year 2012-13. Burbank, which this year is slated to receive $1.3 million, would see a cut of $97,500 in 2012-13.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives meanwhile sought far steeper cuts in an appropriations bill for the current fiscal year that was passed on Feb. 19 — calling for a 62.5% cut in funding that would affect this year’s expected funding allocations.

The measure still has to go to the Senate and will likely be reworked as Democratic and Republican lawmakers continue negations.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) voted against the cuts, which he said in a statement left him deeply concerned about the potential impacts to after-school programs for low-income youth, homeless services, employment training and others.

“The additional and dramatic cuts now passed by the House will be devastating to many vital city services,” he said. “I remain hopeful that as the Senate and House negotiate on a year-long funding bill, critical programs such as CDBG can be partially restored.”

City officials, meanwhile, said they are left waiting for more concrete news from Washington.

“It’s hard to know how this is all going to fit,” Hermman said. “We’re just kind of planning for the worst case scenario and hoping it turns out better.”

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