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CYO Project Is Called Ineligible for Federal Aid

November 13, 1986|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A Catholic organization is barred by new federal regulations from receiving federal funds to build a youth center in Glendale, federal and Glendale city officials said this week.

The Young Women's Christian Assn. of Glendale, however, remains eligible for grant money for its building project, officials said.

The financing rules were made in new federal guidelines prompted by recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state, said Madalyn Blake, community development administrator of Glendale.

CYO Doesn't Qualify

The guidelines prohibit the Glendale Catholic Youth Organization from receiving federal funds to replace its outdated and severely crowded youth center at 4322 San Fernando Road, Blake said.

The Glendale City Council in April allocated $155,000 of the city's share of federal Community Development Block Grant funds to the CYO for the project. The council also allocated $5,000 of the funds for architectural drawings for a proposed YWCA building.

The federal guidelines, issued in August by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, prohibit the city from giving federal money to a religious organization that is considered to be "pervasively sectarian" like the CYO, Blake said.

In a letter sent two weeks ago to Dianne Modisett, executive director of the Glendale YWCA, HUD officials said that her organization is eligible for federal money. Stuart C. Sloame, HUD deputy general counsel in Washington, said the department has determined that the YWCA is an "essentially secular institution."

Limits on Federal Subsidies

The new guidelines prohibit federal subsidies for structures owned by religious or church-related organizations, said Herbert L. Roberts, a regional HUD director in Los Angeles. Funds can still be used for services provided by religious groups, Roberts said, but not for assets that could accrue to a religious organization, such as the proposed youth center's.

Roberts said, "This issue has created a lot of reassessment of activities authorized by cities. There has been a slowing down of cities contracting with organizations that are somewhat religious in nature."

The funds are still set aside for construction of a youth center in Glendale, Blake said, but the money will have to go to a non-sectarian corporation. She said she has recommended that the CYO or its parent organization, Catholic Charities, form a non-sectarian group in order to receive the funds.

Catholic Charities has its own bylaws, but is a division of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Sister Georgianna Cahill, director of the archdiocesan youth programs, said church officials have not decided if they will follow Glendale's recommendation and form a non-sectarian organization for the CYO project. Archdiocese leaders plan to meet with Glendale officials to discuss the issue, she said.

The Glendale CYO has provided youth programs for low-income families in Glendale for more than 40 years. CYO director Carlos Reyes said participation in the group's summer program has grown from 98 five years ago to 270 last summer.

Reyes said the organization needs $215,000 to build the first phase of its proposed center. A HUD official, who observed the crowding when he inspected the existing center four years ago, suggested that the youth group apply for the federal grant money for a new center, he said.

The CYO planned to raise the additional $60,000 needed for the project on its own, Reyes said.

The federal housing department cautioned Glendale officials last summer that the city's allotments to the Catholic youth group and to the YWCA "may be prohibited." Although cities and counties determine how they want to distribute their share of block grant funds, allocated annually on July 1, the money is not issued until HUD approves the projects.

Glendale officials said they expect to decide how to spend the city's 1986 share of block grant funds by January.

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