HSC is urging City Council to pass a budget for FY21 that funds human services with a reliable source rather than the uncertain CARES Act funding currently proposed. In order to use the CARES Act funds for human services, the City must obtain a waiver from the federal Department of Housing and Urban and Development (HUD). However, the waiver has not been granted and it is uncertain when if ever the waiver will be obtained. The CARES Act generally prohibits municipalities from using funds for items that are in the current year’s budget. The City’s current human services contracts will expire in October if no funding is available.
If the waiver is not granted, human services agencies will not have the funding to deliver critical services that residents depend on, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These services include workforce training, housing supports, addiction prevention, senior services and violence prevention. Identifying alternate funds after the budget is adopted would require taking funds away from another project or source during an extremely tight budget year. By adopting an alternate source of funding as part of the budget now, Council can prevent an unnecessary disruption of these services that will occur if the waiver is not obtained.
HSC has also made the following requests regarding human services funding:
- Continue to honor the 1.5% ordinance by funding the Human Services Fund at a minimum of 1.3% this year, an increase of $278,708. This funding level can be achieved by returning the Violence Prevention contracts for Santa Maria Community Services, Urban League and Families Forward to the Human Services Fund and providing additional dollars to train agencies to do the reporting that will be necessary if federal CARES Act dollars are used.
- Ask the United Way to continue administering the Human Services Fund. This will provide certainty and continuity during this chaotic time.
See our full letter and proposed budget motion below.