The Goleta City Council unanimously approved the reallocation of more than $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant coronavirus funding to be used toward homeless outreach and a senior feeding program during its regular Tuesday meeting.
Every year, the city of Goleta receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to carry out community revitalization projects and expand services that assist low and moderate-income persons in the community.
In the fiscal year 2020-2021, the city received $225,504 in regular CDBG funding and an additional $401,623 in coronavirus relief funding, known as CDBG-CV.
The coronavirus funding was meant to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the city of Goleta prioritized the funding for assisting the homeless and low-income individuals who were negatively impacted by the pandemic through loss of job, wages or increase childcare expenses, according to a city staff report.
When the funding was originally received, the council set $190,000 aside for the Emergency Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program with the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County.
But since that time, the California Tenant Relief Act establishing a rental assistance program has offered $14 million in assistance to Santa Barbara County residents, and the American Rescue Plan Act allocated $16 million to the county for its own emergency rental assistance program.
With millions in funding for rental assistance coming from the state and federal government, city officials pondered whether the $190,000 in CDBG-CV funds could be used more effectively elsewhere.
This was precisely the topic discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, where the Goleta City Council heard a presentation from the city’s Department of Neighborhood Services and Public Safety. Staff from the department recommended that the city vote to reallocate $190,000 in funding for homeless initiatives, particularly to fulfill an agreement with CityNet to provide outreach services, case management and housing for the homeless.
In addition, staff recommended that the council reallocate $12,500 in CDBG-CV funding to be used for the Organic Soup Kitchen’s weekly meal delivery program for seniors based in Goleta. The city recognized that this is a need that needs to be fulfilled, as the longstanding CommUnify senior feeding program that previously served vulnerable seniors ended its programming in July. With the funding, staff estimates that 50 low-income seniors will receive 21 weekly soup meals.
Following Tuesday’s presentation and discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the reallocation of funding to both of these efforts, noting that this is the best action that can be taken to meet the needs of the vulnerable population right now.
“What we’re talking about here is our obligation to do what we can for our community’s most vulnerable, and in some respect, it’s sort or re-doing that by amending the agreement,” Mayor Pro Tempore James Kyriaco said Tuesday. “We do have an obligation to do what we can for the most vulnerable until we get to a place where we’re past the coronavirus.”
Mr. Kyriaco did acknowledge, however, that the Organic Soup Kitchen’s feeding program was “not comparable” to the robust program CommUnify once had. He added that he is “hopeful that in the future the nonprofit community and funders and everyone can get together and come up with something that really truly is closer to what was being delivered previously.” He said that the funding for the Organic Soup Kitchen is “appropriate” for the time and is a step in the right direction.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the council also heard an overview of where additional portions of the city’s CDBG funding was allocated for the fiscal year 2020-2021. According to a staff report, the block grant funded projects with the United Way Learning & Enrichment Centers, the Isla Vista Family Resource Center, the New Beginnings Safe Parking Program, the Transition House Emergency Shelter and Wrap-Around services, the United Way Individual Assistance Program, the Santa Barbara Foundation Non-Profit Assistance Program and the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.
In total, the council allocated nearly $233,000 in CDBG funding for these projects.
The City Council will meet again Sept. 21.