BARSTOW • When the state Legislature decided to end redevelopment agencies as part of its budget deal last year, New Hope Village Executive Director Angela Pasco knew it would spell trouble for her organization, which provides transitional housing to Barstow's homeless.

The organization received $20,000 a year from Barstow's Redevelopment Agency. With the agency's closure, the funds will run out June 30 and may never be replaced.

"That's a huge amount for us to lose in the blink of an eye," Pasco said.

Peggy Fries, the executive director of Desert Sanctuary, which provides services to victims of domestic violence, also stands to lose an annual $20,000 grant. The shelter billed the redevelopment agency $12.50 per person per night, to a maximum of $5,000 per quarter.

"It's a tremendous loss to our program," Fries said.

Fries said the redevelopment funds were useful because they could be spent on any purpose, unlike other grants that mandated a specific use. It helped the organization cover its operating costs and provided flexibility in spending, Fries said.

Money is tightest when the shelter is full, as it was last summer when 20 people filled the beds to capacity, Fries said.

"You should have seen our bill for food or diapers at that point," Fries said.

With the loss of redevelopment funding, it will be more difficult to operate the shelter during periods of heaviest use, Fries said.

Pasco said it was still too soon to know exactly how it would affect services her organization provides, but there was serious cause for concern.

The $20,000 from the redevelopment agency was used as part of the group's 25 percent matching funds for a Housing and Urban Development department grant of $66,000, so if the group cannot come up with sufficient matching funds, the larger grant could be in peril, Pasco said.

Originally, the state planned to allow agencies to agree to spend some of their funding on schools and continue to operate. The state Supreme Court, though, overturned the bill establishing that process, saying that the state could close redevelopment agencies but not force them to return funding.

Barstow's Redevelopment Agency ceased operations Jan. 31, with the city taking over as its successor agency. Funds will continue to be distributed until the end of the fiscal year June 30. After that, the city would have to authorize additional spending in order for any funds to be dispersed.

Pasco said she would try to lobby for grants from several sources, by contacting the City Council in hopes of obtaining city funds from other sources, and reaching out to Supervisor Neil Derry's office.

Additional revenue could come through fundraising efforts, Pasco said.

New Hope will hold an annual fundraiser Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Quigley's restaurant. At the fundraiser, called the Love Fest, the organization's Board of Directors, clients and staff will serve dinner and dessert and then raffle off donated prizes.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or spearson@desertdispatch.com