Community programs suffer as federal grants minimize

YAKIMA, Wash.-- Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been cut from a Yakima community program. Grants that have come to Yakima's Neighborhood Development Services for decades are no longer paying for major programs.

Patrick Gallagher has lived in Yakima for nearly 35 years.

"I wouldn't be moving anywhere else," Gallagher said. "I love the valley and the people in the valley."

But, moving was on Patrick's mind when his roof was caving in and he couldn't do anything about it.

"I'm disabled and my wife is retired and it's just really, we struggle to make ends meet as it is," he said. "Let alone, the added expense of a new roof and everything else."

It's a struggle a lot of low to moderate income seniors see. Yakima's senior home repair program helped about 150 people a year. But, that number is dropping because the federal grants that fund it are dropping also.

"In my 21 years here in the city of Yakima, it has just been increasingly harder and harder to deal with the federal government," Archie Matthews, Yakima Neighborhood Development Services Manager said.

In one year, Yakima's Community Development Block Grant was cut 17 percent. The Housing and Urban Development grant was cut 34 percent. Neighborhood Development Services responded by completely cut its down payment assistance program, a service that helped 25 to 30 people the last two years.

Now, the senior home repair program is strictly emergency based. Crews will only come out to fix something that's broken. No maintenance like they've done in the past.

"We have seniors that have spent their whole life paying taxes and building this country into what it is," Matthews said.

Patrick's roof was considered an emergency. The fresh coat of paint was just an added touch.

"I don't feel like I'm torn between staying in my home or selling my home or what I would do if I had to sell my home," Gallagher said.

Others like him might not be so lucky from now on. Money for these grants has also been arriving later every year.

The Housing and Urban Development office called Yakima yesterday to say the deadline to apply for money will be pushed back because it's not clear how much is available. Yakima says it's the first time that's happened in 40 years.