On Friday, I reported that none of the eight City Council members have recommended funding for the Neil Good Day Center, a city service that, since 1991, has provided homeless people with a place to take a shower, pick up their mail, access social services or just get off the street for awhile.
I got a call from Tony Manolatos, spokesperson for Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, whose district includes Downtown. Manolatos said city staff told councilmembers to anticipate a 25-percent drop this year in federal Community Development Block Grants, the funding source for Neil Good as well as other housing, social services and public safety programs.
"And there was no drop in worthy, heart-string projects that are out there, so we had to make choices," Manolatos said.
But, he was surprised to hear that no other councilmembers recommended funding for Neil Good. "That's news to me," he said. "No one's supporting Neil Good?"
NGDC's costs are entirely covered by federal grants and, for at least as long as I've been covering homelessness, has never been denied funding.
Maria Velasquez, spokesperson for the San Diego Housing Commission, which oversees homelessness programs for the city, said she didn't know why NGDC wasn't recommended for funding. She sent me a Feb. 28 memo from Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry to the City Council requesting that "the City's emergency shelter programs and Neil Good Day center program receive adequate funding" for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.
The city contracts with the Alpha Project to operate Neil Good. This year's funding request was $500,000. Alpha Project CEO Bob McElroy questioned what would happen to the 500 people who seek services there each day. "They can't not fund it," he said.