Outreach program seeks donors
Waianae Community Outreach lost funding because it did not turn in receipts on time
A Waianae nonprofit that helps Leeward Coast homeless get into housing and has more than 800 clients is asking for donations after losing 25 percent of its funding.
Earlier this month, Waianae Community Outreach was denied a $39,000 federal block grant, which it had received since 2004, because it failed to turn in receipts on time.
City Department of Community Services Director Debbie Morikawa, whose agency administers the block grant program, said the nonprofit had been warned that its funding would be lost if it failed to submit receipts.
Agencies that receive the block grants must turn in receipts to the city to get reimbursed. If nonprofits are not timely with their reimbursement requests, Morikawa said, the city gets pressure from U.S. Housing and Urban Development officials.
Mark Chandler of HUD in Honolulu said the federal agency stepped up its surveillance of block grant spending in 2001. "The city has been doing things in order to improve," Chandler said. "Timeliness is a very important factor."
But Stanlyn Placencia, executive director of Waianae Community Outreach, said she has more important things for her employees to do than file for reimbursements.
"The reality is, my staffing is small," she said. "I admit that we have a contract that the billing gets submitted timely. But when I have to deal with crises in the community, I'm not going to worry too much about that. We have more important things to do."
The nonprofit's operating expenses come to about $400,000 annually, and Placencia is working to come up with more money to cover the loss of the federal grant. She plans to hold a fundraiser soon and is asking for donations.
Placencia also said the $39,000 covered a portion of three of her agency's eight social workers. But she said laying off some of her employees or reducing their hours are not options.
She also will not consider cutting back on services, she said.
"We're going to do something," Placencia said, adding that "unfortunately for the city, they have lost an essential partner."
Morikawa said one other nonprofit also lost its block grant funding for the coming year because it did not turn in receipts quickly enough. She declined to name the agency.
She also said the funding could not be given directly to agencies, rather than the nonprofits seeking reimbursements, because the city has to verify the expenses were "eligible costs."
To contact Waianae Community Outreach, call 696-5667.