Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - June 20, 2014

Help for the needy from a city that cares

Along with Pleasanton's municipal government approval in recent months of a number of multimillion-dollar housing and commercial development projects, the City Council also has worked with its Human Services Commission to make public funds available to help nonprofit programs and agencies serving the needy in the community.

Last month, the council committed a total of $119,500 in lower-income housing funds and $164,280 in general funds for housing and human services projects. Another $87,975 was appropriated for arts, cultural and youth projects. Total funding for these programs, including federal sources, amounted to $1,088,021, a sizeable amount for a city the size of Pleasanton.

Grants obtained through city resources support the Pleasanton Senior Center, Ride View Commons, Axis Community Health, women's shelters and crisis management programs in the Tri-Valley, and much more.

Each year, Pleasanton's Human Services Commission receives requests for several million dollars in grants from the nonprofits serving our community. Obviously, with limited funds through city appropriations, federal and state funds and other resources, only portions of the requests can be satisfied. Some agencies are left out.

Still, the list of those receiving help is a tribute to the careful needs-based analysis of the commission and city staff. They include Axis, East Bay Innovations for individual counseling services, Easter Seals of the Bay Area, Legal Assistance for Seniors, Open Heart Kitchen, the Sandra J Wing Healing Therapies Foundation, Tri-Valley Haven and the Tri-Valley YMCA.

The commission's considerations are difficult. Reductions in federal funding, while still coming, have been threatened in Congress for the past several years and would seriously impair these agencies' ability to serve our community if carried out.

The demand for human services has been increasing at the same time as resources are diminishing. Even though the recession has ended, charitable giving has not yet recovered. In addition, there is not enough affordable housing to meet the growing demand. In Pleasanton, particularly, housing prices and rents are continuing to increase, leaving many of those who need housing here left behind.

Two recent actions by the City Council promise to boost the help needed. The council has approved a multimillion-dollar rebuilding project for Pleasanton Gardens and Kottinger Place, aging complexes that will now be turned into modern, comfortable housing for low-income tenants.

Also, serving as the lead agency, the City Council has applied for a loan in the amount of $1.25 million to provide funding for the improvement of a new clinic building acquired by Axis Community Health. This would more than double its capacity to serve low-income area residents and better meet the challenges of evolving health care needs.

These are welcome commitments from a city that cares.

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