Rohnert Park nonprofits brace for loss of city funding

Rohnert Park is slashing funding for nonprofits it has helped support for years. The move presages the withdrawal of its support entirely, officials say.

The change results from the state's elimination of redevelopment agencies. The city had used a portion of its redevelopment budget to fund three agencies that provide housing services to more than 500 low-income residents a year.

Last year, anticipating the end of those monies, it used in-lieu housing fees instead as a stopgap measures. It plans to use some of those funds again, but can do no more beyond this year, officials say.

"We're dead in the water when it comes to funding," said Linda Babonis, Rohnert Park's economic development manager, who oversees the programs.

"The day's arrived, we all knew it was coming," she said. "Some planned better than others, but they're all scrambling."

Officials at the three agencies say the impact will be severe.

"It's clearly going to be a reduction in the number of families we serve, about half," said Jim Gattis, executive director of Sonoma County Adult and Youth Development, or SCAYD.

The agency, which provides emergency rental and housing grants, last year got $130,000 from the city and requested the same this year; instead, it is to receive $46,000.

The disbursements to the two other regularly funded nonprofits also will be cut significantly.

"Hopefully we'll still be able to take care of our emergency situations. Those who aren't urgent, may have to wait," said Diane Broadhead, executive director of Rebuilding Together, which rehabilitates low-income homes.

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