Rachel Reeves

Sequestration hits public service agencies in Redondo Beach

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One consequence of ongoing federal budget cuts is that resources for the organizations serving disabled and needy people in Redondo Beach continue to shrink. Public service agencies – domestic violence shelters, food banks, and special needs providers, to name a few – will absorb a five percent across-the-board funding cut within this financial year.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Redondo Beach City Council held a public hearing to discuss Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding with the people whose organizations it funds. Afterward, the council authorized the city manager to submit grant applications to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

While the tone was positive on both sides of the dais – service providers thanked the council for prioritizing CDBG funds, and the council reciprocated with accolades for their noble work – the reality is the available CDBG funding from HUD has decreased by 56 percent since 2001-2002. This trend will be furthered by recently imposed “federal sequestration” cuts.

Twelve years ago, CDBG funding in Redondo Beach was $575,824 overall, and $86,373 of that was earmarked for public service agencies. Last year, the CDBG provided $266,341 overall, and for 2013-2014, the grant funding available is $253,024. Of that, just $37,954 will be split between 12 public service agencies.

A majority of the CDBG funding – $116,965 – is likely to be spent on a proposed project to install curb ramps throughout the city. The city is proposing to use $47,500 for its housing improvement program, which provides grants for special home repairs to disabled people, and the remainder will go to the aforementioned public service agencies. Of the total funding, $50,605 has been earmarked for administration costs.

Service providers took the podium Tuesday night to explain to the council the work their organizations do, the people they serve, and the reasons they desperately need funding.

“You remind me annually that there are people in need in this community and you’re the ones on the front lines serving those needs,” District 5 Councilmember Steve Diels said after the hearing. “This has been a really difficult period these last four years during a time when we’ve had diminishing resources…and when resources diminish, needs increase. I can’t imagine what you’ve been witnessing doing the work that you do.”

He said the council and mayor have fought in past years to retain CDBG funds, and have lobbied in Washington, D.C., but said it was “awkward” receiving thanks when the gratitude should be directed toward service providers.

“We respect what you do, and thank you,” he said.

District 2 Councilmember Steve Aspel agreed, and said it “hurts” to know that needs are high but money being provided by federal agencies is low.

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