A Los Angeles City Council committee on Friday recommended that the nonprofit agency operating the Wachs Multipurpose Senior Center in North Hollywood remain on the job.
The city's Department of Aging has urged City Council to break its ties with Valley Interfaith Council, which provides meals, counseling, day care and legal advice each week to hundreds of elderly users of the center. Instead, the department wants the City Council to award the $512,000 contract to Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles.
After hearing from one representative from each agency, the two members of the council's grants committee voted to recommend that the council award the contract to Valley Interfaith Council. The committee members, Robert C. Farrell and Richard Alatorre, did not discuss the issue before the vote.
The recommendation will be forwarded to City Council for a decision.
Lois Hamer, president of Valley Interfaith Council, told the councilmen that her agency had been treated shabbily by the Department of Aging. She said her agency had "suffered considerable injustice and discrimination" from the department's officials, who were unhappy with the agency's accounting procedures.
Avoid Disrupting Relationships
She urged the council to extend the contract for a 12th year to avoid disrupting relationships built between the center's staff and its users.
Lois Gunther, board president of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, testified that her agency could greatly expand services to elderly residents of the East Valley, noting what she called the agency's excellent reputation for providing social services.
"Jewish Family Services has a long history of quality, cost-effective and comprehensive services to seniors," Gunther said.
"We would not have applied for the job if we didn't think we could do a better job," Gunther said after the meeting.
Elderly users of the center expressed concerns in June that it would close because the contract was due to expire June 30. The contract, however, was extended for up to 60 days to provide the City Council time to determine who would operate it.
The grants committee also recommended that Valley Interfaith Council be awarded a contract to run the Multipurpose Senior Center in Pacoima. The city's Recreation and Parks Department has operated the program the past year because some city officials were dissatisfied with Valley Interfaith Council's performance.