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City divvies up grant money, hires homelessness consultant

The city announced the recipients of the 2018-2019 Community-Based Organization grant program at the May 8 city council meeting.

The grants provide financial assistance from the city to nonprofit agencies that “deliver critical services to Claremont residents,” according to Human Services Director Anne Turner.

The CBO grants are separated into two categories—general services and homeless services.

General services grants, which has $86,650 available for different programs, were given to 19 agencies, out of a total of 23 agencies that applied. The total amount requested was $104,032.

Around $37,800 of the general services grants is going to eight “new and emerging” services. Those services include $4,433 to the Claremont Museum of Art’s Project ARTstART program, $5,292 to Sustainable Claremont’s Green Crew Urban Forestry Program, and $2,975 to the Inland Valley Repertory Theatre’s Summer Musical Theater Camp.

Other programs that received funding from general services include Claremont Heritage’s third grade local history program ($2,000), Meals on Wheels ($5,917), Fairplex’s Big Yellow Bus Program ($3,867), Shoes That Fit’s Emergency Warehouse Program ($4,940) and the Claremont After School Program ($14,925).

The overall dollar amount for homeless service grants usually comes to $60,000. But for this year, grants have been cut in half, with the city opting to retain $30,000 to pay for a consultant to help with homeless outreach and to secure Measure H money for local nonprofits.

Ms. Turner was clear in announcing that cities would not directly get Measure H money, rather the money goes to nonprofits that work with the city on homeless services. The consultant will guide Claremont in how to properly use Measure H funds through city programs.

“We need somebody who has done that successfully and can show us how to do that successfully and show us best practices,” Ms. Turner said.

This diversion of funds meant turning away much of what Inland Valley Hope Partners asked for. The group initially asked for $22,500 for its family stabilization/homeless assistance program and $3,500 for a family emergency housing program called Our House.

Ms. Turner told the council the city and Councilmember Joe Lyons worked with IVHP and LA County to “remove the barrier” to receive county funding for those programs.

“This allows them to allocate staff time to the county contract, which is invaluable to them to be able to execute and administer their programs,” Ms. Turner said.

IVHP did receive CBO funding of $7,457 for the Claremont Homeless Advocacy Program (CHAP) and $6,293 for the Food Security Program.

The consultant has already worked with the city on developing its homeless services program, which was set to be presented in front of the council on May 8, but was pulled at the last minute to add more information. The program will be presented in front of the council at the next meeting on May 22.

The Community and Human Services Commission first approved the CBO grant allocation, including the decision to allocate half the funds to the hiring of a consultant. At the council meeting, committee chair Lee Kane said that decision was not taken lightly.

“I think we all felt this was the best use of the funds right now given the opportunities presented by Measure H,” Ms. Kane said.

Jed Leano, who also serves on the commission, said this was an opportunity for Claremont to become a “coordinated entry system,” meaning homeless people are put into LA County services in Claremont, as opposed to referring them to outside services.

“I think the coordinated entry system piece is really important to the maturation and growth of our response to homelessness,” Mr. Leano said. “And this allocation of funding would be a big part in that step in seeing that coordinated entry system piece come to our city.”

The council voted in favor of the grant allocation, with Councilmember Sam Pedroza calling the CBO program “one of those things that really sets us apart,” and Mayor Pro Tem Corey Calaycay lauded the community and human services commission for doing the groundwork.

Mr. Lyons, who received praise from both the city and the council for his work with the county in securing Measure H funds, said he was “very proud to be a part of the process,” and noted he would continue fighting for this issue after he retires from the council later this year.

Mayor Opanyi Nasiali expressed some dissatisfaction with the process—he took issue with the notion that Claremont had to spend $30,000 to secure funds from a measure the people voted for, as opposed to the county just divvying up the Measure H funds directly to cities.

“What I hear is the county is holding the money and we have to go begging for it. That frustrates me somewhat,” he said.

The next city council meeting will take place on May 22.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com