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Only Shelter for Mentally Ill Will Face Cuts

By Miranda Simon | 14 Dec 2009

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SAN JOSE – Santa Clara County will cut more than $220,000 from Innvision’s Julian Street Inn, San Jose – the only facility in the county that provides emergency shelter to the mentally ill.

The $220,000 represents a 10 percent cut of Innvision’s $10.6 million budget, which the non-profit shelter relies on to serve aproximately 24 thousand homeless people on the Peninsula.

The County’s budget for social service non-profits that rely on county assistance to serve low-income citizens was expected to be slashed $1.3 million for fiscal year 2010, 20 percent of their total $7 million budget. The Board of Supervisors did not approve the cut.
Matthew Osment, the Strategic Alliances Director of the non-profit shelter said will not close down and no beds will be eliminated at Julian Street Inn or at any other Innvision program, but the cuts will entail some restructuring at the administrative level, “Basically, we won’t be getting raises,” he said.

Operating over 20 sites, Innvision is the largest provider of homeless services in Santa Clara. Although revenues for fiscal year 2010 are down 10 percent, it’s still considered to be financially better off than most other homeless services – but not thanks to the county.

40 percent of Innvision’s almost $10 million revenue comes from government funding – federal, state, county and local municipalities. The 60 percent resting – little over $6 million – comes from private grants.

In 2009, Innvision spent almost $10 million on emergency shelters, subsidized permanent housing, and multi-service centers that provide food, laundry machines and Internet access.

Osment says that county funding, which represents 30 percent of Innvision’s total revenue, is down 13 percent for the 2010 Fiscal Year, while other government resources have remained stable.

But Osment is not too concerned: a 13 percent cut in county funding only represents 1.5% of Innvision’s total $10.6 million budget for 2010.

Christine Burroughs, the CEO of Innvision says the non-profit has had to pursue more private funding to remediate its 11 percent cut in revenues.
“Initially we were addressing an $800,000 shortfall and after a lot of lobbying, this year we were able to restore all but about $130,000. We know that next year we’re going to be facing more cuts and deeper cuts. We managed to keep it to the minumiun even though $130,000 is still a lot to us because we are very bare boned.”

In July 2009, Innvision announced a raffle for a $3 million home in Los Altos Hills to raise revenue through alternative means, but Burroughs said the project was not as successful as they expected. The deadline for purchase of tickets was extended two weeks due to lack of buyers.

Burroughs says Innvision has seen a 20 percent increase in the number of people they have served in the last year because of the recession, a total of 4,800 individuals. With unemployment in Santa Clara County at nearly 12 percent, demand for shelter and subsidizing is up.
William M., 57, has been living in an apartment at the Opportunity Center – a subsidized housing complex in Palo Alto operated by Innvision and Housing Management Inc. – since March, but had been on the waiting list for housing since 2006.
Though he stayed at shelters around the county for 30 to 90 days, he said he often found it impossible to find a shelter.
“You do what you have to do to survive on the street,” he said. “Some people feel comfortable living under tree, living under a freeway underpass, out in the bushes, some people like me they find a 24 hour business where they can hide out.”
Innvision, together with five other homeless services providers in the county received, Oct. 1, around $5 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), to be funneled for direct rental assistance.

But Burroughs says the new funding, ironically, has made the non-profit’s job more difficult, because it’s managing the federal funds with no increase in it’s already tight, administrative budget. Last year Innvision spent $460 thousand in administrative costs, including payroll. This is little more than 4 percent of its total budget.

[The ARRA funding is] “wonderful, it’s giving help to the people that need it, but it’s putting a burden on the non-profit providers who are already sustaining cuts,” said Burroughs.
Christine Burroughs says Innvision is gradually moving away from increasing shelter beds, towards a system in which the homeless can move quicker into permanent, low income housing.

“It’s a better way to go, and hopefully down the line less expensive. Although for extremely low income people there still needs to be a substantial subsidy in order to afford rents here and so that’s a real challenge for this county.”

In 2009 Innvision spent almost $2 million in permanent supportive housing, less than half of its expenditure on emergency housing programs.

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