By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The change results from the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies. The city had used a portion of its redevelopment budget to fund three agencies that provide housing services to more than 500 low-income residents a year.
Last year, anticipating the end of those monies, it used in-lieu housing fees instead as a stopgap measures. It plans to use some of those funds again, but can do no more beyond this year, officials say.
“We’re dead in the water when it comes to funding,” said Linda Babonis, Rohnert Park’s economic development manager, who oversees the programs.
“The day’s arrived, we all knew it was coming,” she said. “Some planned better than others, but they’re all scrambling.”
Officials at the three agencies say the impact will be severe.
“It’s clearly going to be a reduction in the number of families we serve, about half,” said Jim Gattis, executive director of Sonoma County Adult and Youth Development, or SCAYD.
The agency, which provides emergency rental and housing grants, last year got $130,000 from the city and requested the same this year; instead, it is to receive $46,000.
The disbursements to the two other regularly funded nonprofits also will be cut significantly.
“Hopefully we’ll still be able to take care of our emergency situations. Those who aren’t urgent, may have to wait,” said Diane Broadhead, executive director of Rebuilding Together, which rehabilitates low-income homes.
The nonprofit is to get $21,000; it had asked for $70,000, the same amount it received last year.
The city, pending the council’s expected approval, intends to distribute $100,000 in all to SCAYD, Rebuilding Together and Committee on the Shelterless, operator of five transitional housing facilities in Rohnert Park and one permanent housing for very low income residents.
The three agencies had asked for $288,056 in total. The reduced funding will at least buy them some time to seek other sources of support, Babonis said.
Petaluma-based Committee on the Shelterless will seek federal funds and may shift from transitional to permanent housing, more funding for which is available, said chief operating officer Mike Johnson.
The cuts mean at least the temporary end of a long-running Rohnert Park policy that has preserved a net of social services in a way smaller cities are rarely able to do.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Councilwoman Gina Belforte.
She held out hope that the city eventually would be be able to renew its funding, even without redevelopment housing money.
“As the city turns around and we put money into reserves, I think we’ll be able to give again,” she said.
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.