Federal grant application near completion

Community donations provided furniture for Emmaus House, Hollister's women's shelter.

CDBG funding request will provide shelter, job training
CDBG funding request will provide shelter, job training

The San Benito County Health and Human Service Agency’s Community Services and Workforce Development Division prepared to submit the 2012 Community Development Block Grant application March 20 with a public hearing at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

The federal grant application includes a $500,000 request for funding to support three local programs. Members of the Community Action Board reviewed submissions from nonprofits and agencies in San Benito County after surveying community members about what they thought were the most important needs.

The application calls for $100,000 to operate the homeless emergency winter shelter; $200,000 for job training services at Community Services and Workforce Development; $162,500 to operate Emmaus House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence; and $37,500 for administration funds.

Enrique Arreola, the deputy director of CSWD, said the full application can be reviewed at the community services office on San Felipe Road. The application is due April 6.

The public hearing last week was the second of two required as part of the application process. The county is applying in the category of public service, which includes activities that benefit low-income residents.

The supervisors approved the application with a resolution that will allow the staff members to move forward with the application process. A letter attached to the agenda item said that award announcements are generally made in July or August, but they have been delayed in the past. After the award announcements are made, it takes one to two months for the county to sign contracts with the nonprofits.

Emery Smith, the chair of the Homeless Coalition, thanked the staff and board for accepting the application for the homeless shelter during a public comment period.

“We are ending our seventh year,” Smith said. “We provide a warm, safe place to sleep and shower.”

He said the shelter receives funding from donations and some other grants, but they have “experienced the fiscal roller coaster.”

“The approval will help keep the shelter open and we are grateful for that,” he said.

He said that in the seven years the winter shelter has been open it has served 438 people. This year 57 clients have stayed at the shelter, with 15 finding stable housing.

A representative of the Emmaus House also spoke during the public comment period. The woman said when Emmaus House opened in 2006, it received CDBG funding for three to four years.

“It allowed us to grow our program capability,” she said.

She said that according to the sheriff’s department there are more calls taken on domestic violence issues than on gang-related issues. The Emmaus House has an average occupancy rate of 75 percent and helps to connect families with other services such as counseling.

The funding for job training skills will allow CWSD to help residents with job applications, prepare for job interviews and increase computer skills. It also provides a part-time work experience program and a summer youth program. The summer youth program places 32 students in a summer job at 30 hours a week for five weeks.

“I want to recognize the staff and volunteers that make it happen,” said Supervisor Margie Barrios, of the work that goes into the grant application process. “I know the amount of work it takes to put the application together and sometimes it’s not approved.”

The grants are competitive so each application is ranked to determine with jurisdictions will receive funding.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho said the grants help to keep some nonprofits going.

Since 1995, CSWD staff members have been successful at applying for the CDBG funding. It has provided funding to the homeless and domestic violence shelter; built a childcare facility for low-income children to provide job training services to low-income residents; and provided food assistance to low-income families.

The maximum that can be requested for public services, under which this year’s applications fall, is $500,000.

The letter to the supervisors said if the county receives the grant funding, they have to spend at least 50 percent of the 2012 balance before they can apply for the 2013 funding.


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