Bend – Loss of Funding Impacts Programs

Two nonprofits whose public service projects weren’t selected to split more than $30,000 in federal grant money earlier this month are now looking for a way forward without the financial assistance.

NeighborImpact and the Assistance League of Bend, the two groups whose proposals weren’t recommended for the $34,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding by Redmond’s Housing and Community Development Committee, both said their projects will suffer from the lack of assistance. The projects — the Assistance League of Bend’s Operation School Bell and NeighborImpact’s HomeSource — provide school kids with clothing and low- to moderate-income homeowners with education and access to financial assistance, respectively.

“We really don’t know why we weren’t selected, we received nothing in writing,” Anita Saalfeld, president of the Assistance League of Bend, said Wednesday, adding that the group, funded by donations, is now looking for other funding. “I have to say that we were very disappointed because we saw this as a way to lead into expanding the program in Redmond. We were hoping that by showing the need (in Redmond) we could get more financial support.”

“We’re facing a rollback of services in Redmond,” said Lynne McConnell, deputy director of housing for NeighborImpact. “We don’t know what it’ll look like yet, we’re still figuring out the pieces. We’re looking for other alternatives, and this isn’t the end of NeighborImpact in Redmond. But it’s a huge loss to us, and we’ll have some hard decisions to make at the end of the fiscal year.”

The two proposals weren’t recommended for funding because they didn’t score as high as the other two projects proposed by the Boys & Girls Club of Redmond/Terrebonne and United Way of Deschutes County when the Redmond committee reviewed them, according to Chelsea Dickens, grant program coordinator for the city of Redmond. Proposals were scored based on how well they met the criteria in the committee’s five-year plan, which sets rules and priorities for the grants.

For instance, the Assistance League of Bend is an entirely volunteer-run organization and doesn’t have experience administering a federal grant, one of the criteria.

“With any federal grant program, a lot goes into the management of the grant itself,” Dickens said. “A lot goes into it. (The Assistance League of Bend) didn’t have experience managing federally funded projects, so they scored lower.”

Dickens said that NeighborImpact’s HomeSource program, which received the funding last year, didn’t score as high as its competition because it hadn’t secured additional funding by the block grant application deadline in February.

“We’re always looking to see if the programs can match with outside funding sources,” she said. “We want to see that they have other partners.”

NeighborImpact requested $31,000 for its program, which was projected to cost $131,050 total, according to the project application. That money would have gone toward supporting educational and coaching programs and services for low- to moderate-income Redmond residents.

“My thinking is that (HCDC’s) focus is building their way out of the affordable housing crisis,” McConnell said. “Our focus is maintaining homeownership — the stabilization and preservation of units that are available — but it’s easy to think that building is the solution.”

The Assistance League of Bend requested $30,000 to fund Operation School Bell, which costs $73,500 total. Last year, the group provided clothes for 500 elementary to high-school-age students in Redmond. It was hoping to increase that number to more than 800 with the extra funding, Saalfeld said.

“The need is so great in the Redmond area; it really is.”

By Aaron West / The Bulletin