City social service grant plan revised

Several groups lost grants in second funding review

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002

New recommendations from city's Social Services Advisory Board would add city grant funding to five social service programs and take away assistance from six others.

Gastineau Human Services, Alaska Legal Services and the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. lost funding in the panel's second grant review. The Juneau Boys and Girls Club, Shanti, Hospice and Home Care of Juneau, REACH and Southeast Alaska Independent Living gained funding in the second set of recommendations.

The advisory board presented a revised list of recommendations to the Juneau Assembly on Wednesday that would fund 15 of 26 social service grant requests. The Assembly asked the board to review the applications a second time after nine applications that were filled out incorrectly were not scored during an earlier review.

The board's recommendations would fund five grant requests that were not funded earlier and withdraw funding from six proposals that made the cut the first time around. The city has set aside $472,500 for Juneau social service grants and received requests worth $895,490.

The Assembly didn't act on the recommendations Wednesday.

Social Services Advisory Board Vice Chairwoman Marsha Riley asked the Assembly to consider putting more money into local social service programs.

"We hope the Assembly takes into consideration that since 1997, funding has not increased," she said. "We're underfunding necessary things to make our community healthy and safe for all of us."

Alaska Legal Services filed two grant requests with the city this year that were funded in the first review, but not in the second. The grants would support legal services for families and provide information to tenants in public housing, supervising attorney Mark Regan said.

Regan, too, hopes the city is able to put more money into social service programs, but worries the review process wasn't fair the second time either. Originally, some applicants weren't scored because their statement of needs ran longer than one page. And the Assembly added points for budget accuracy the second time around, he said.

"Showing the need for particular services is an important part of the process and some got to make claims in more detail than others," he said. "We hope they take a fairly careful look at how the process is working this time around."

Funding recommendations for Catholic Community Service didn't change in the second review, but Executive Director Rosemary Hagevig said her agency isn't "counting any chickens until everything hatches."

The advisory board is recommending the city fund three of Catholic Community Service's grant applications related to families and senior citizens. A fourth request for Southeast care coordination isn't recommended for funding.

Hagevig said the advisory board did a thoughtful job of reorganizing the grant review process last year.

"I'm really very hopeful they find the extra money to fund the whole list," she said.

Gastineau Human Services had two grant proposals that were funded in the first review, but not in the second. Operations Director Andy Swanston said community needs have increased, while funding hasn't. Local funding for chemical dependency and mental health was eliminated in the second grant review, he said.

"I'm critical of the process just because there is no process," he said. "The city has ... taken a simple process and turned it into a complicated controversy."

While Assembly members asked the Social Services Advisory Board to consider not funding the applications at the full requests, Riley said the board disagreed with that approach. The advisory board asked applicants last year to limit individual requests at either $25,000 or $50,000 to make things more fair and to eliminate inflated budgets, she said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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