Revised: January 2019
By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston
|MWVCAA Director Jon Reeves "driving out poverty"|
It wasn't a total bust. Top executives Jon Reeves and Cyndi Leinassar, along with several MWVCAA Board members (Kevin Karvandi, Jennifer Wheeler, Herm Boes, Erika Lanning, Linda Bednarz and Helen Honey) and managers, and a couple of non-profit colleagues, raised a total of $31,435 from their "networks."
Their ads didn't say what the money would be used for, except "Driving out poverty." [http://www.mycommunityaction.org/fundraiser.html]
Does that include renovating their office building on Commercial Street, so they can finally reopen The ARCHES Project day shelter? Is giving arguably underpaid employees raises "driving out poverty"?
Maybe MWVCAA's failure to state clearly what the funds would be used for (also) had something to do with its failure to meet the goal of $50,000.
Another possible factor was, last December, while the board members were trying to recruit participants, the very poor communications about, and evident reluctance to activate, despite public outcry, an emergency warming shelter.
This year, MWVCAA will receive at least $27 million in state and federal funds for their various anti-poverty programs. Of that, we estimate the Community Resources Program, of which ARCHES is the main component, will receive about $4.5 million (about 17% of the total agency budget, up from 8% in 2013).
Unlike most social service agencies, MWVCAA does not have to compete for these funds. They are required by statute and rule to be given to MWVCAA. The funds are an "entitlement", based on stuff like population and poverty levels. All MWVCAA has to do to get the money is submit a budget and a work plan, which management may amend at any time. The amendment must be approved, but as we saw with the process last fiscal year to approve ARCHES using $487K to purchase the new building, OCHS isn't particular. Just spend the money by the end of the year (June 30), please.
Based on the budgets and work plans MWVCAA submitted to OHCS for the 2015-2017 biennium (obtained through a second public records request), ARCHES spent most of its PY2016 OHCS funds on emergency shelter, the new building, and rapid rehousing (see chart below). That's if they spent the money in accordance with their work plans.
ARCHES also received about $375K for rapid rehousing through HUD's CoC Program, and $324K from the Department of Veteran Affairs (probably Self Sufficiency for Veteran Families (SSVF) funds), and it's likely they received some CSBG, FEMA and Marion County funds, as well. We estimate their total budget for PY2016 was about $2.8 million, about 60% of what we estimate they will receive for PY2017.
We chose to chart only the funds coming through OHCS because only OHCS requires budgets and work plans indicating how the money will be spent. In the charts, "Admin" includes data collection and what OHCS calls "community capacity building."
The "unbudgeted" column in the PY2017 chart above includes EHA Phases I and III (the Phase I budget didn't add up, and we did not receive the Phase III budget in the response to our public records request) less the allowed 10% for admin (OHCS and MWVCAA each take 10% for admin), less the Building, plus EHA DRF (not budgeted) and about $55K in unexpected increases in amounts received. The third largest category, Building, includes $10K/month in mortgage payments, $495,856 for renovations, and $250K for the balloon payment that's due some time in 2018 (which might be put off until the second half of the year [i.e., PY2018] and which MWVCAA has said it will seek to cover with EHA funds). Elderly Rental Assistance (or ERA) is a new state program.
Below is a graph of how OHCS and ARCHES management look at PY2017 spending. It's based on CRP "Core" budget published by OHCS last October 2017.
We asked CRP Director Jimmy Jones about this budget when it was published. He acknowledged that he did expect receive additional funds in PY 2017, and explained,
My general philosophy is that the program follows a “one-third” model...One third on salaries for people to provide direct client services: day center, assessment, navigation, case management, support for other high profile community needs (HRAP)[,] etc.[,] [w]ithout which, especially with a population at this needs level, the placements will fail...One third on non-personnel operations costs: the electric bill, water bill, gas bill, supplies, insurance, and a thousand other things that have to get paid to do business on this scale...One third to direct financial supports for clients.
Goal is always to get the most production and the greatest efficiency out of the first group [personal services] so that there’s little to no duplication or waste, and to cut costs in the second group [operations] so that you have more money to spend in the third [direct payments]. There are structural limitations that are frustrating though. The Vet programs for example carry 8 staff with them, but they can by contract only serve vets, which are only about 15 percent of the homeless population.
We didn't ask, and therefore don't know, where this "one-third" model comes from, but we don't think it makes sense to pay $46,000/mo for rent, utilities, insurance and supplies for one office building. Maybe someone could explain it to us. And, it'd sure be nice to have details on those "Direct Payments."
Readers should bear in mind that the graphs display only projected spending, not actual spending. There appears to be no requirement for reporting/monitoring how state funds are actually spent, and very little in the way of measuring outcomes. While that might have been acceptable when the state was allocating a mere $5M or so statewide in annual EHA/SHAP fuding (most of which was reportedly spent on motel vouchers), it should not be acceptable today, when the state is giving CAAs $41M statewide, and budgets are nearly double what they were.
|MWVCAA Staff, Board Mbrs and Supporters|
If the board is now done playing golf, perhaps they will turn their attention to these issues, and work to make MWVCAA an institution the whole community can support, and maybe, one day, even be proud of. George Carlin.