TURLOCK -- City officials have stepped in to handle a grant aimed at helping keep people off the streets after a state agency took the money away from the embattled Modesto nonprofit that oversaw it.
On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council will consider authorizing its housing department to manage the remainder of a $1.6 million Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
The money, Housing Program manager Maryn Pitt said, is used to help people keep their homes after a job loss or other economic problem. It also can go toward providing a deposit on permanent housing for a homeless person or family.
"This will provide assistance to help keep you housed," Pitt said. The grant has helped in 190 cases, or households with a total of 456 people, she said.
The city worked with local nonprofits and Community Impact Central Valley, formerly known as the Stanislaus Community Assistance Project, to secure the grant.
"The more partners you could collaborate with in the grant, the more money you could get," Pitt said. Working with We Care, the United Samaritans Foundation and the Children's Crisis Center, as well as SCAP, Turlock got the maximum amount. Of the $1.6 million, roughly $284,000 remains to be spent before September.
Until March of this year, SCAP took the lead on the grant, providing case management and paying out the funds, which the state would then reimburse.
However, according to a report Pitt wrote for the council, "Given the difficulties that SCAP has experienced, the Department of Housing and Community Development approached the collaborators on the grant to complete the expenditure of the funds."
Those difficulties include a federal investigation into the husband-and-wife team that ran SCAP for eight years. Denise and Joe Gibbs were fired "for cause" in late December, after concerns arose over a compensation deal that was to have paid $627,000 to Joe Gibbs in the 2009-10 fiscal year, for SCAP's spending of public funds to renovate housing and for serious deficiencies in managing dwellings remodeled through Modesto's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
The Gibbses are believed to be the focus of an FBI investigation, after agents in early December served search warrants at their Riverbank home and at SCAP's office.
In addition to a new name, the agency has a new executive director, Tom Shanks.
Pitt said state officials did not tell the city why they pulled the grant from the agency. A representative from the Department of Housing and Community Development could not provide that information Thursday.
Commitment to reforms
Jude Berry, a spokesman for Community Impact Central Valley, said the decision was made locally, by the board of the new organization. He provided a resolution the board passed May 14 that attributed the decision, in part, to the agency's commitment "to implementing ethical reforms and professional best practices to rebuild the trust of its City, State, and Federal Partners."
"They've initiated some new programs and new efforts and in the process had to make a determination on what they could do well and other things that they had to give up or put on hold," Berry said.
The board hasn't given up any other grants, but it is evaluating operations every quarter, and it's possible it could as the organization remakes itself.
"We do applaud the decision to give it to the city of Turlock," he said. "They are both local and capable."
What's important, Pitt said, is that the money will still be available to needy Turlock residents, part of expanding services to the homeless and those at risk of losing their homes that includes the new Homeless Assistance Ministry operated by the Turlock Gospel Mission and the city's plans to build transitional and permanent low-income housing.
"Everybody is bringing a skill set to the table," Pitt said. "Our interest is really all about getting that money spent in helping people locally."
The Turlock City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.