Last year, the Humility of Mary Shelter on Davenport’s West 5th Street ended the year with a $61,000 deficit. Sandy Walters, the shelter’s director, said she was able to fill the gap with money from other agencies such as United Way of the Quad-Cities Area.
But they still are struggling for every dollar. So the idea of losing money from the city of Davenport’s Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, fund is discouraging.
The shelter got $26,000 from the program last year.
With the impending fiscal cliff, the CDBG program is facing cuts just like many other federal programs. That is not good news for the Humility of Mary Shelter, which got just half of the CDBG funds it asked for last year.
The CDBG cut would be the latest in what has been a steady decline for a program that, at its peak, pumped $2.3 million annually into Davenport neighborhoods.
Last year, it had fallen to $1.3 million, down $500,000 from only two years earlier.
“It’s been a rough last two years,” said Rita Pribyl, a senior manager with the city. She said the sequestration cuts will mean the loss of another $100,000 in city CDBG funds, taking the program to its lowest level since 1988.
It is not clear yet how that will affect individual agencies. The city does not allocate CDBG funds until it approves its budget, which is usually in the spring. But with social service agencies asking for twice the amount of money they were given last year, the outlook is not good.
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The CDBG program also funds economic development and housing programs in the city. About a third of the money also goes to administration and planning.
For Walters, who said the 82-bed homeless shelter is full every night, the potential loss of funding comes at a time when the shelter is already fighting to stay out of the red. “We’re struggling a lot with the shelter right now,” she added.
Humility of Mary took over the shelter — along with a deficit — four years ago from the former John Lewis Community Services. Walters added that dealing with less income is not as easy as simply cutting services. She said a larger stream of federal housing funding, which is also parceled out to other Quad-City social service agencies, would be affected if the shelter does not maintain service levels.
“We can’t keep going on with a deficit,” she said. “We don’t have money on a tree.”