Limited funding for Pomona Day Labor Center to be considered by City Council

Article from the Daily Bulletin

Monica Rodriquez, Staff Writer

Created: 04/14/2012 01:53:26 PM PDT

POMONA – A proposal will go to City Council members on Monday night calling for providing $37,000 in funding to the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, also known as the Pomona Day Labor Center.

The funds aren’t nearly as much as the $123,930 the center received in the 2010-11 fiscal year from the city’s now defunct redevelopment agency. However, “it’s enough to help and keep the doors open,” said Suzanne Foster, the center’s executive director. If the City Council approves allocating the funds, the money will help keep the center operate through June 30. The money would come from the city’s general services division budget and not specifically from the general fund, according to a city staff report. Mayor Elliott Rothman said Friday he will be looking carefully at the source of the proposed funding. He added the bigger question will be how to fund the center for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

“Next year, it’s going to be very difficult,” Rothman said. The matter of funding for the2012-2013 fiscal year is one that will be addressed as part of the budget process, according to the staff report.City administrators are now looking for ways to close a $2.5 million budget gap in the coming fiscal year’s budget.During the past 13 years, the city has provided funding to the center at various levels, according to the staff report. The center, on Mission Boulevard just east of the 71 Freeway, last received funding was for the 2010-2011 fiscal year when it was allocated $123,930, according to the staff report.The center did not receive financial assistance for the 2011-2012 fiscal year as a result of the passage of state legislation approving the dismantling of redevelopment agencies across the state and the future of Pomona’s redevelopment agency became uncertain. Through the use of grants, reserves and in-kind services, the center has continued to operate but some funding sources require matching funds and could be lost without financial assistance from the city, according to the staff report.

Foster said Friday she’s pursuing additional grant opportunities and has been making contacts that could lead to other funding opportunities. Even if the city was to provide funding for the coming fiscal year “we’re going to have to make changes” at the center, Foster said. The strategy is still being developed but one potential change will be further scaling back hours of operation. Sunday hours have already been eliminated but it is possible the center could go from operating eight hours a day Monday through Saturday to 6 1/2 hours Monday through Saturday.

Before a decision is made, however, the workers who are members of the center must be consulted, Foster said. In addition, staffing levels may also be adjusted.

At the April 2 City Council meeting, day laborers and their supporter went before the City Council urging them to continue to provide assistance to the center, which has existed for about 15 years.

Through the establishment of the center, workers, including many who are illegal immigrants, left street corners where they sought work.

The center has helped match workers and those who need their services in an organized fashion in addition to being a place where laborers learn English and are able to take part in peer-to-peer job training programs.

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