The city of Santa Barbara recently offered grants collectively worth $1.3 million to dozens of local community service organizations.
City officials allocated over half a million dollars to capital projects and over $700,000 in community development block grants to various groups, including the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Transition House, Domestic Violence Solutions and Foodbank of Santa Barbara. The Casa Esperanza Homeless Center, Eastside Neighborhood Clinic and Freedom Warming Center will use the money to develop and maintain programs aiding low-income residents.
Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said the local government prioritizes providing the region’s nonprofits with supplementary funding.
“It is a great partnership between city government and the nonprofit agencies who provide absolutely essential services such as shelter, food, education and ways for youths to stay out of gangs and advise healthier alternatives,” Schneider said.
According to Mike Foley, executive director of Santa Barbara’s Casa Esperanza Homeless Center, the organization received $40,000 to staff the community kitchen and $48,000 for shelter care.
“This city provides general funds requested by community service agencies, and there are many cities that do not,” Foley said. “In that respect, the city continues to have a positive impact on charities in the Santa Barbara communities.”
However, Foley said this year’s financial aid was significantly reduced compared to last year.
Bonnie Campbell, Santa Barbara Eastside Neighborhood Clinic’s chief operations officer, said federal budget cuts have negatively impacted local nonprofit financial aid.
“The lack of available funds is not the city’s fault, necessarily,” Campbell said. “The federal government has been cutting funding sources and programs that support the most vulnerable groups. However, the fact that the city of Santa Barbara has left money for nonprofit organizations creates a downstream effect. They have less money to work with as well.”
Nonprofit agencies can submit proposals to apply for separate program and capital grants. The Eastside Neighborhood Clinic received $21,000 to provide its dental care program for the homeless and the Community Development Block Grant program allocated $90,000 to maintain and repair the organization’s five physical utilities.
Campbell said city funding is integral to maintain many community services.
“Even at a reduced rate, we are able to continue to provide excellent dental care to the homeless at no charge,” Campbell said. “Without the city and the CDBG funds that the city receives from Housing and Urban Development federal funds, we would not be able to maintain our homeless programs.”
Nancy Edmundson, director of administration of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, said the grants build credibility for the organizations and attract potential sponsors for additional support.
“The grants certainly do not pay for everything, but they do give us a significant boost,” Edmundson said. “Also, private funders are able to see that the city supports the organization with human resources and recognize [our institution] as viable [and are] therefore more likely to contribute.”
Foley said city officials should explore options such as partnering with private sectors to increase aid to low-income residents.