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Palo Alto ‘human services’ spared cutbacks?

Full funding recommended for service-providing nonprofit organizations -- earlier threatened with $150,000 in cuts

Palo Alto’s wide variety of human services provided by local nonprofit organizations should receive the full share of funding they received in 2005, plus a bit more, the City Council’s Finance Committee agreed Tuesday night.

Under the recommendation, the city would distribute $1.2 million in both 2007-08 and 2008-09 to 14 community organizations.

Recipients include: Avenidas, Palo Alto Community Child Care, Second Harvest Food Bank, Project Sentinel, Adolescent Counseling Services, Alliance for Community Care, Bay Area Community Resources, Community Association for Rehabilitation, Community Health Awareness Council, Community Technology Alliance, Downtown Streets Team, La Comida de California, MayView Health Center and Senior Adults Legal Assistance.

The four-member committee voted unanimously for the proposed allocations, selected through the Human Services Resource Allocation Process (HSRAP).

Despite a brief scare in February, when City Manager Frank Benest suggested cutting $150,000 from the popular human-services program, all groups that applied will be granted at least the amount they received during the last allocation round in 2005, the Finance Committee recommended.

InnVision and the Support Network for Battered Women did not apply for the money this year, freeing up about $54,000. A committee that evaluated the requests recommended granting the new Downtown Streets Team $37,700 and distributing the other $16,000 among other groups.

The Finance Committee recommended drawing on a contingency fund to ensure all grantees received a modest increase.

The Downtown Streets Team is a program that prepares the homeless for work, while keeping the downtown area spruced up.

Deciding how to dice up little money between many deserving groups is hard, Councilwoman Dena Mossar, a Finance Committee member, said.

“These budget (decisions) have been painful year in and year out. This is one of my least favorite nights.”

The committee also voted on distributing federal community block grants, which are geared toward providing services such as housing to the poor and reducing blight.

Fiscal year 2007-08 recipients split $1.7 million. Sizable grants went to Bridge Housing for the Fabian Way Senior Housing project, renovation of the senior residence Stevenson House’s interior and InnVision, which shelters the homeless and operates the Opportunities Center in Palo Alto.

The human services and block grant allocations will reach the full council in upcoming weeks. (Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at btrout@paweekly.com.)

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