A recent IVN article, “Rising Poverty in Redlands Reflects Nationwide Trend,” portrayed an incomplete and unfair picture of the city of Redlands. While none of us would deny that poverty and homelessness are problems, even in communities like Redlands, the article’s portrayal of the city’s poverty level as matching that of the nation and the suggestion that local government is doing nothing to support our impoverished population is not supported by the facts.
The article states that Redlands’ poverty rate mirrors that of the nation at 15 percent without attributing any of those figures. According to the most recent data available from the Business Analyst On-Line application from GIS software leader Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), the American Community Survey for 2005-2009 indicates that only 8.8 percent of Redlands’ households (2,148 households) are considered to be below poverty level. While we would like to see that figure much lower, it is certainly below the 15 percent figure stated in your story.
The article further implies that the city has provided no resources to assist the city’s impoverished and homeless population.
In the 2011-2012 program year, the city of Redlands awarded $76,811 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to five public service agencies.
These public service agencies reported assisting 2,837 Redlands residents. While Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations only require that at least 51 percent of the beneficiaries are low- to moderate-income, nearly all — 99.5 percent — of the beneficiaries served by the city’s CDBG funds were actually low- to moderate-income residents in 2011-2012.
Assistance provided included transitional housing and rental assistance to prevent homelessness, emergency food distribution, assisting victims of domestic violence, and employment and life skills services to recent parolees, many of whom are homeless.
Additionally, the city’s CDBG program awarded another $27,343 for Fair Housing and Tenant Mediation services which provides services to prevent undue evictions that could lead to homelessness. They provided assistance to 335 residents, of which 89 percent were of a low- to moderate-income level.
In the 2012-2013 program year, the city awarded $87,747 to fund these same programs. Information on total beneficiaries will not be available until September 2013, but those figures are anticipated to be comparable to 2011-2012.
In addition, the city has worked with various local agencies that serve the homeless population, including the Blessing Center and the Salvation Army. The city has worked with the Salvation Army in an effort to expedite the permit process to open a cold weather shelter for the homeless in time for the cold winter months. The city also assisted in establishing a transitional housing project for homeless youth.
Finally, contrary to the quote in the story by Heidi Mayer that “the city is broke,” Redlands City Council, City Manager and staff have worked diligently to responsibly manage the city’s financial resources, despite a difficult and challenging economy. Currently the city has a $54 million General Fund operating budget, balanced on recurring revenues and reserves of more than $12 million. There are certainly many unmet needs, but the city continues to meet all its financial obligations and to provide superior services to all its residents.