Survey Says…: Today is Last Day to Tell City How to Spend Grants to Aid Youth and Families
Every so often, emails show up in my inbox from somewhere within city planning, telling me I need to participate in some survey to help the city decide how to spend its money. Or attend a meeting to discuss how well the department is spending money on particular programs.
I’ll admit that I get excited about hearing there is money and I get to have a say in what we do with it. But, these emails tend to assume that I know, at the very least, the minutia of what a particular department does or can do, something about how much money my priorities might need to function well, and whether there are options out there that are not presented (or are presented in a form I would like to see adjusted) but fall within a department’s purview.
These emails make me feel really dumb, in other words.
So, when the latest email from the Community Development Department (CDD) arrived saying the Community Action Board (CAB) needed me to participate their Community Needs Assessment Survey for 2014 – 15 arrived in my mailbox, I called Jacquelyn Rodriguez of the CDD and asked for help.
I was confused.
Just a few weeks before, I had been sent notice about a CDD hearing that also asked that I participate in a Community Needs Assessment Survey, this time on the Mayor’s proposals for how to spend millions in federal funds to assist very-low, low-, and moderate-income communities around the city.
These are different funds, Rodriguez assured me. The funds for the February meeting were grants tied to specific categories, like housing, and the Mayor’s office had already come up with draft allocations for the funds. The funds for this survey come from the Community Services Block Grants program and are linked to FamilySource Centers (FSC). It also appears their designation is still somewhat up for grabs.
FSCs are a recent addition to the CDD’s arsenal of tools to assist the poor, first becoming operational in 2010. The 21 centers (6 of which are in South L.A.) provide a comprehensive array of social services to low-income residents in some of the most impoverished areas of the city. These services may include counseling, cultural, recreational, and after-school activities for youth and families, but also more tangible things like English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, food distributions, or tax preparation and financial counseling services, depending on the neighborhood and the needs. These centers are also intended to serve as designated emergency centers, in the event of a state- or federally-declared disaster.
The Community Needs Assessment Survey sent out by the CDD asks participants to rank the services they would like to see these centers offer. Within the category of Job Creation/Training, for example, do you prefer computer literacy courses. ESL classes, or job placement assistance? How about within Financial Educational Services: do you need help opening a bank account or credit counseling? How would you rank services like mental health counseling against access to healthcare or domestic violence counseling and shelter? Clothing against substance abuse counseling or transportation?
The answers you give will help the CDD prioritize distribution of the funds.
Sort of. In part.
Community feedback is really important, Rodriguez assured me. But it is only part of the process.
Drawing on Census data and data from American Community Surveys (conducted every year and focused on the social and economic needs of a community), the CDD does extensive assessments regarding income, education, housing, jobs and other to determine the extent to which services are necessary in an area. The surveys you answer for the CDD will help supplement those findings or push them to take a closer look at the data, should there be a mismatch between the expected priorities and the results of the survey.
Need more information about the CDD? Click here. Want to have a say in how funds are spent? Check out the survey here. Just do it by then end of the day today! Survey results should be posted to their site in April.
Locations of FamilySource Centers in South L.A.:
SOUTHEAST LOS ANGELES LOCATIONSThe Children’s Collective, Inc. 3655 S. Grand Ave, Suite 280 Los Angeles, CA 90007 (213) 747-4046 Coalition of Mental Health Professionals, Inc. 9145 South Broadway Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90003 (323) 777-3120
SOUTHWEST LOS ANGELES LOCATIONS1736 Family Crisis Center 2116 Arlington Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90018 (323) 737-3900 Community Build 8730 South Vermont Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90044 (323) 789-9950
WATTS LOCATIONSBradley Milken FSC (City-Managed) 1773 East Century Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90002-3051 (213) 473-3607 TDD/TTY (213) 473-3788 Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) 958 East 108th Street Los Angeles, CA 90059 (323) 249-7552