City Awards Funds for Nonprofits, Homelessness

A line of people stand for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center food bank line
The City Council allocated $28,000 in federal funds to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and several other local nonprofits this week. BTAC said it plans to use the money to provide rental assistance and bolster its food bank (above). Photo courtesy Burbank Temporary Aid Center

The city of Burbank recently designated more than $1.1 million in federal funds for several local nonprofits along with one of its own departments that is tasked with addressing homelessness.

The federal government provides Community Development Block Grant funds annually to cities, which then distribute the money to organizations serving low-income populations. On Tuesday, the City Council gave those funds to programs and initiatives for next fiscal year, including homeless prevention, health services and after-school activities.

The funds most of the nonprofits received were, as is often the case, notably less than what several had requested — by necessity, as the city didn’t have enough funds to cover all requests in full.

But the City Council granted all 15 proposals it had received, with its only change to its staff members’ recommendations being the approval of a proposal from the Verdugo Hills Council Boy Scouts, which plans to use $1,000 in CDBG funds to provide about 9,000 pounds of food to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center’s food bank.

The most expensive request, from the city’s own Community Development Department, was for $500,000 to fund a study and design for interim housing, a type of temporary housing often used to help people experiencing homelessness. CDD employees estimated that such housing could help about 120 people, though the study is not expected to begin until about November. An estimated $400,000 of the grant will be used for construction, according to the department’s proposal.

City staff members also told the City Council that they would return to ask for the panel’s permission before moving forward with an interim housing site, though Simone McFarland, the CDD’s assistant director, later told the Burbank Leader that construction doesn’t require council approval.

The City Council also agreed to hold more than $97,000 in grant funding for the Kids Community Dental Clinic for up to six months. The clinic, which provides affordable dental work to children of low-income families, originally requested $1 million to help identify and construct a new facility, explaining that it has outgrown its current capacity

But because the nonprofit is in the very early stages of acquiring a new location, city staff members advised the council that some funds be set aside until KCDC had a more concrete plan for their use. Council members agreed, with Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, who led the discussion Tuesday, encouraging the clinic to launch a campaign to attract other funding sources.

Other approved grants included $95,000 to the Armenian Cultural Foundation to install a solar panel at its local youth center. The organization received some CDBG funds last fiscal year, but less than half of what had been requested, and returned to the City Council this year with a request for an additional grant.

The council allocated $32,500 to the Family Service Agency for its homeless prevention programs, $44,000 to Family Promise of the Verdugos for its rapid rehousing initiative, and $28,000 to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center for homeless and emergency services.