After a few weeks of bureaucratic ping pong, the UCSB chapter of Habitat for Humanity will reapply for funding from Associated Students Finance Board to pay for its Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Finance Board originally denied Habitat for Humanity the $5,000 it requested during the board’s Feb. 12 meeting. Finance Board Chair Nick Szamet said the board’s policies and procedures prohibit A.S. from allocating money to cover accommodation and transportation costs to non-A.S. entities. However, he said it was possible for the board to overturn its decision – provided the A.S. Katrina Relief Project endorsed Habitat’s campaign – since the A.S. group was not planning a trip this spring break.
Sean Novak, Habitat spring break trip coordinator, said the Habitat chapter met with the relief group yesterday to discuss the funding situation. At the meeting, he said the group had given them verbal endorsement to again approach Finance Board for funding.
Habitat Vice President Cameron Malone said the group went to Finance Board because it was short of funds, although it had requested and received money from the Residence Halls Association and had performed beach clean-up fundraisers.
“We got $2,000 from the Community Affairs Board, as well as some money from the RHA, the Shoreline Preservation Fund and individual residential halls,” Novak said. “But still, it’s not enough.”
Novak said this is Habitat’s eighth spring break trip, but only its first to the Gulf Coast. He said the cost is a lot higher this year because the group plans on flying instead of driving. Each of the weeklong event’s 22 participants had to privately fund his own plane ticket and pay an extra $150 for expenses such as food and accommodations.
According to A.S. Finance Board policies and procedures, the board can make one exception per organization per year to fund expenses such as transportation. However, Szamet said making exceptions is difficult due to Finance Board’s now ample budget from the Students’ Initiative, because it does not want to set a precedent of funding every travel and accommodation request.
“Ever since the Students’ Initiative was passed, this has been a gray area,” Szamet said. “We don’t want to start getting hit with transit requests.”
Szamet said the board did not make an exception because it felt Habitat could collaborate with the A.S. group – a grassroots organization formed shortly after Hurricane Katrina to help with gulf coast relief – during its spring break trip.
Gahl Shottan, a member of the A.S.-affiliated Hurricane Katrina group, said the group decided not to organize its annual spring break trip this year because it preferred to focus energies on a summer trip. She said the organization has taken three trips to New Orleans since the hurricane hit in August 2005.
Szamet said receiving verbal consent from the A.S. Katrina Relief Project would allow Habitat to potentially obtain funding for its trip, as it would give the group the grounds to restate its case before Finance Board’s meeting on Monday.
“We must look at the request and how it meets the criteria,” Szamet said. “We will decide from there.”