City of Pleasanton

Tri-Valley nonprofits, arts and COVID-19 responders will see increased funding on the heels of recent Pleasanton City Council decisions.

At a May 19 public hearing, the council considered items related to Housing and Human Services Grants (HHSG) and the Community Grant Program, along with housing and arts. Absent Mayor Jerry Thorne, the council voted unanimously to accept the staff recommendations to fully fund grant applications.

Funds for human services will be allocated as follows: $292,108 from the general fund, $67,632 from the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) administration, $70,091 from CDBG capital, and $204,491 from CDBG public services. Funds for housing programs and HOME administration will be allocated from the Low Income Housing Fund and the Federal HOME fund totaling $460,153. And the arts and youth commissions will see an allocation of $94,903 from the general fund, bringing the total amount allocated from the general fund to $387,011.

As COVID-19 brought with it job loss, the threat of homelessness and anxiety, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a waiver allowing municipalities to exceed the 15% cap on public service dollars and use CDBG capital funds toward public service grants.

“We rely on Federal funding for those programs, and what was really unique this year that allowed us to fully fund many of those grantees was the Federal government’s waiver,” said Becky Hopkins, assistant to the Pleasanton city manager.

According to Hopkins, before this year, public services grants typically went to Open Heart Kitchen for the senior meal program.

This year, along with the waiver of the 15% cap, capital funds substantially enlarged the amount available for public service.

“We were able to use the capital CDBG money, which we have banked, because we don’t always have applicants who apply every year for a capital project, so many times we won’t allocate it,” Hopkins said. “We have this amount of funding. We’re only allowed to keep so much over a five-year period, so it was perfect timing, because we were getting close to our cap, and we were able to release that money for public service projects.”

Thanks to those unspent funds, the amount available to youth and arts commissions was higher ($94,903) than the typical annual allocation of $80,000. Human and housing services grants saw a 4.61% increase from last year, a figure that varies based on the funding formula adopted by the city in 2009.

“This year, in response to COVID-19 and in recognition that our grant applicants represent nonprofits that are meeting the needs of our most vulnerable residents during this crisis, the city council agreed to add an additional $67,367 from the General Fund,” Hopkins said. “This action, along with the waiver from the Federal government to use CDBG Capital funds toward public services allowed the city council to fully fund the grant applications recommended by the Human Services Commission.”

Prior to the vote, Human Services Commission Manager Jay Ingram and Housing Division Program Manager Steve Hernandez presented staff reports outlining how funds are spent for services related to community, housing and the civic arts and youth commissions.

“I wanted to highlight for the council a project the commission is very excited about,” said Ingram, explaining how funds would support mental and behavioral health in the city.

Ingram said the Human Services Commission reviewed 23 grant applications representing 14 nonprofit agencies this year. The Commission made the recommendation to fund 12 agencies through 12 different projects.

“These agencies provide core services to our most vulnerable residents in a variety of areas,” Ingram said. “Staff recommends all applicants that the commission initially recommended partial funding for receive the full amount of their financial request.”

The funding allocation will go toward disability services and access, food and nutrition, health care and behavioral health care, senior services, workforce development and youth services. By need, it will be broken down as follows: homelessness (27%), food (22%), medical (12%), capital rehabilitation (12%), family services (10%), financial/legal aid (10%) disabled/special needs (6%) and employment (2%).

“The housing commission evaluated seven grant applications and recommended fully funding six of seven applicants,” Hernandez said.

The housing grant funding will address housing rehabilitation and assistance, repairs, homeless outreach, counseling and other services. Broken down by need, the funds will be allocated as follows: housing rehabilitation (35%), rapid rehousing/repairs (33%), street outreach and homelessness prevention (17%), housing counseling (9%), independent living (4%) and Pleasanton administrative services (2%).

The Civic Arts Commission received 13 applications for funding and recommended all of them. Those funds will support music, concerts, choral and opera programs for students, cultural arts programs, art therapy for seniors and museum programs. The Youth Commission received seven applications and also recommended funding each one in support of services for mental health, healthy relationship coaching, youth water conservation campaign, golfing programs and STEAM.

City leadership then adopted a resolution approving substantial amendments to the fiscal year (FY) 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan, FY 2019-2020 Annual Action Plan, and Citizen Participation Plan to access $201,314 in CDBG coronavirus funds to respond to the pandemic. Axis Community Health will receive $130,314, Spectrum Community Services (Meals on Wheels) will receive $48,000 and an additional $23,000 will go toward the Tri-Valley regional testing site at the fairgrounds.

For full staff reports, visit https://www.cityofpleasantonca.gov.