Local nonprofits and low income homeowners are putting to use $557,289 in federal grants to help poor and underserved people in Thousand Oaks .
Last month the City Council approved a plan to distribute the Community Development Block Grants, provided each year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
About $59,000 of the grant money was subsidized by the city’s general fund.
The recipients were chosen by an ad hoc committee of community residents over the course of nine meetings.
Among the grant recipients was Meals on Wheels, a program of Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks , which received a $19,921 award.
Every day except Christmas, program volunteers prepare hot and cold meals in the cafeteria of Los Robles Hospital and deliver the lunches and dinners to seniors age 60 and over who are unable to leave their homes or prepare their own food.
Janet Young, director of development at Senior Concerns, said the CDBG funds will help underwrite the meal program and pay for full and partial scholarships for seniors who can’t afford the program. No one is turned away.
“In many cases the seniors would not be getting meals otherwise,” said Lisa Weaver, director of nutrition services at Senior Concerns. “If you’re frail and homebound, you can’t get to the market, you can’t bring the food home, you can’t prepare it. So you’re not eating enough and you’re not eating nutritionally adequate food. This is a growing problem as the population is aging.”
The organization, which serves 87 seniors, is preparing to provide meals to even more people because of the demographics and the need in the city, Weaver said.
“When we can bring nutritionally balanced food to these seniors, we are helping them to stay in their homes longer, to be healthier longer and to live the life that they would prefer,” she said.
CDBG grant money will also go to the city’s new Residential Rehabilitation Program, which helps pay for repairs to aging mobile homes, condos and single-family residences occupied by low-income owners. The CDBG-funded housing rehab program replaces a similar program under T.O.’s defunct redevelopment agency.
Among the benefactors, nonprofi t home builder Many Mansions was awarded $247,000 to do electrical and sewer repairs and install water-saving lowfl ow toilets at its units at Shadow Hills and Esseff Village.
In addition, 10 homeowners— out of the 140 who applied—were selected in a drawing to receive urgent repairs to their residences. Each unit can receive up to $10,000 for the work.
Of the 10, four did not qualify or chose not to participate. After last month’s council meeting, four additional names were drawn.
Once their applications are approved, the city will work to give them the grants as soon as possible, senior analyst Caroline Milton told the Acorn this week.
At the May 27 meeting, Councilmembers Claudia Bill-de la Peña and Joel Price expressed concern that the four leftover grants would not immediately be awarded. City staff was asked to look into expending extra funds for the emergency projects sooner and possibly awarding more grants within the budget.
City Manager Scott Mitnick said staff would look into possibly lowering the grant amounts and splitting the awards among more people.
“We are still looking at the issue,” Milton said. “There is a lot of red tape involved when you use federal funding.”
The remaining CDBG awards were distributed to Lutheran Social Services; Conejo Free Clinic; Long Term Care, Senior Ombudsman Program; Ventura County’s RAIN Transitional Housing; and Westminster Free Clinic.