The Coast News Group

City set to deny ElderHelp funding request

ENCINITAS — Encinitas is set to deny a $15,000 block grant fund request by a San Diego-based elderly care nonprofit after staff said they failed to deliver the services expected with the money it received last year.

Cities like Encinitas administer hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal Community Development Block Grant programs, which are awarded to organizations that provide public services, or to the city itself for capital projects that eliminate blight or to offset some of the city’s administrative costs.

ElderHelp, which operates programs countywide that assist the elderly, received $4,189 in grant funds last year to help launch two of their most popular programs, HomeShare and Concierge Club, in Encinitas.

HomeShare pairs seniors who live in their homes but need daily assistance with adults in need of affordable housing that can provide that care, and Concierge Club pairs seniors with volunteers who can help home-bound seniors with a variety of services, such as grocery shopping, check-in calls, escorted transportation and pet care.

ElderHelp officials had hoped to sign up at least 24 people over the year. According to a city staff report, in which staff recommends denying their funding request, the agency signed up three households — one in the concierge program and two in HomeShare — and provided 26 referral calls to Encinitas seniors.

“It is not recommended that ElderHelp be awarded with FY 2017-18 funds due to low

performance in FY 2016-17,” the staff report states.

The city proposes awarding about $39,000 to five public service organizations, including $18,155 to Community Resource Center for homeless prevention and intervention; $6,871 to Meals on Wheels to feed seniors; $4,615 to the San Dieguito Alliance’s “Project YO,” for youth outreach; $4,615 to the Interfaith Shelter Network’s rotating shelter program; and $4,822 to Catholic Charities for its La Posada de Guadalupe homeless shelter.

The proposed denial comes at a time of uncertainty for organizations such as ElderHelp, as the federal CDBG program is in the crosshairs of a budgetary battle. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the program, making this current round of allocation especially competitive and important for organizations that rely on the funding.

ElderHelp Associate Executive Director Anya Delacruz said while she was disappointed that her organization did not reach the number of families it had hoped to reach in its first year in Encinitas, she said they received hundreds of calls and have helped link seniors to other services.

“We are definitely disappointed and frustrated that more seniors didn’t come on to our services,” Delacruz said. “What we have found, though, is that our calls have doubled since we got the funding, and we are definitely supporting and helping the community in a different way than we expected.”

Last year, the city was set to deny the group’s request, which was also for $15,000, but awarded the $4,189 after the group articulated its plan to the City Council.

Delacruz said she will attend Wednesday’s City Council meeting to make the organization’s case for at least some funding.

“It’s one last-ditch effort, but in the end I understand the council has to do what they feel is right,” Delacruz said. “At the end of the day, we hope that they will fund other organizations that help seniors, because it is the fast growing segment of our population, and the issues associated with that rising population aren’t going to go away.”