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City Council To Revisit Funding Of Homeless Center

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Aired 3/22/11

The Neil Good Day Center for the homeless downtown could still be closed, despite an apparent deal last week to restore funding.

Marla Phelps was among many people who pleaded with San Diego City Council yesterday, to keep the Neil Good Day Center for the homeless open.

“I am homeless. I’m a client at the Neil Good Center. Right now I am able to take showers at the Neil Good Center. Please don’t take that away from the homeless," Phelps said.

But despite the emotional pleas, the future of the day shelter in San Diego has been put on hold. The center serves about 400 homeless people a day, providing showers, a place to pick up mail, and access to counseling.

A woman sits outside around the corner from the Neil Good Day Center. She asked to have her photo taken.
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Above: A woman sits outside around the corner from the Neil Good Day Center. She asked to have her photo taken.

Every year the City of San Diego receives about $16 million in Community Development Block Grants. CDBG funds come from the federal government to help people in poor and low income neighborhoods. But this year, the city is likely to get a lot less money because of federal budget cuts. And so groups that were funded last year could be cut this year, including the Neil Good Day Center.

City Council did not approve funding for the center, even though city staff found a creative way to finance the $400,000 needed to keep it open. The city can collect on some outstanding debts early -- the city's Redevelopment Agency owes the CDBG program $78 million. Currently, the money is being paid back over 10 years, but the repayment plan can be accelerated.

Council rejected the last-minute effort because the process wouldn’t be fair to other groups who applied for grants and were denied.

Among the groups who pointed to the inequity of the process was the Senior Community Centers.

“The only fair thing to do is put all of the funding request back on the table,” said Paul Downey, CEO of the senior centers.

Council agreed to look at other requests for funding when and if more federal money becomes available. Meanwhile the Neil Good Day Center has enough money to stay open until the end of June.

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