Hope Center, other agencies missing from initial list of nonprofits to get $2.3 million

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2014 

A committee has recommended giving $2.3 million in city money to 29 nonprofit agencies for homeless, domestic violence, job training and other services.

Some long-time recipients of city funds were not awarded money under the recommendations that were given Tuesday to the Urban County Council's Social Services committee. Many of those nonprofit agencies told the city's Social Services committee that the loss of funds will be detrimental and questioned how the committee ranked applications.

The Hope Center, the city's largest homeless shelter for men, did not receive $500,000 it had requested for emergency shelter services.

Janice James, a director at the Hope Center, said the center has received funding from the city for its emergency shelter for at least 12 years. During this year's brutal winter, the Hope Center housed up to 240 men each night. The center needs $1 million to run the shelter.

James said the shelter will either have to try to find additional funding through private sources or it might have to serve fewer people. Federal funding won't cover emergency shelter.

"Emergency shelter is the hardest thing to raise private funding for," James said.

The Hope Center, which has other programs such as drug treatment and mental health services, received a total of $643,000 from the city for its other programs. It had asked for $1.4 million in city funds.

The Children's Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that interviews and treats children who have been sexually abused, did not get the $70,000 it requested, said Bruce Simpson, a lawyer who represents the Children's Advocacy Center.

"It is not only reasonable but necessary for our survival," Simpson said of the funding the center requested.

The vast majority of the Children's Advocacy Center's services are used by police and prosecutors to convict sexual abusers. Simpson asked the council to consider giving priority to nonprofits that work with the government as a criteria for awarding the grants in future years.

Social Services Commissioner Beth Mills and councilmembers said on Tuesday that the recommendations for funding were not final. Mayor Jim Gray and the council could choose to add additional funding for nonprofit agencies in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

Gray is set to deliver his budget on April 8.

Gray added additional funding for social service agencies in previous years.

Mills said the $2.3 million is the most the city has given to social service agencies. But it also received more applications this year than in previous years. In total, there were 73 applications asking for $6.26 million in funding.

The number of applications has steadily increased in part because of the competitive way the city now ranks applications and because federal funds are difficult to get, Mills said.

For the past three years, the city has used committees to rank nonprofit applications on an assortment of criteria, said Craig Bencz, of the city's social service department. That process is constantly being tweaked, Bencz said.

Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall.

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