Santa Ana, which failed to apply for its share of federal emergency shelter grants this year, has asked for more time to apply and probably will receive the money, a federal housing official said Thursday.
Scott Reed, Southern California spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, confirmed receipt of a letter from Santa Ana asking for permission to submit a late application next month.
The department has already approved the request orally, he said, and written confirmation from Washington will follow shortly.
Criticism by Advocates for Homeless
"We're behind Santa Ana and their efforts," Reed said. "In all likelihood, it will be approved, and they will get their allocation."
Santa Ana is eligible for $66,000 under the program, which makes available $50 million for homeless shelters in cities and counties that meet certain criteria.
The city has been heavily criticized by advocates for the homeless since disclosure last week that Santa Ana was one of just four cities in the nation that had failed to apply for their allocations. (The others are Inglewood, Glendale and El Monte. Palau, a Pacific island trust territory near Guam, also did not apply.)
Santa Ana is the only one of the five that has tried to apply late, Reed said.
The federal government has already sent grants to most of the 317 cities and counties that applied, Reed said. Anaheim will receive $39,000 and Orange County $79,000.
Funds originally set aside for Santa Ana would be reallocated to California on Nov. 28 if the city does not file a late application, he said.
Santa Ana housing manager Patricia C. Whitaker said the city sent a letter Monday asking whether it could file the required comprehensive statement of existing homeless services about Nov. 18. The deadline was Sept. 28.
The city sent another letter by messenger Thursday, advising HUD that it would be submitting a late application for the emergency shelter funds. Those applications, she said, were due Oct. 15.
Santa Ana does not have its own homeless shelter and will apply for the funds on behalf of the YWCA, which operates a downtown shelter for homeless women, Whitaker said.
The city wrote that it needed the extension, Whitaker said, because "we had not finalized negotiations with the nonprofit agency, and it would give our city council time (to review the application)."
YWCA Executive Director Mary Douglas said the $66,000 grant could enable the shelter to serve 20 more women a day. There is now space for 38; the shelter turns women away each day, she said.
"If we can access these funds, it would be a marvelous addition," Douglas said. The grant would represent more than a third of the shelter's current annual budget of $180,000, she said.
The city gave the YWCA a $100,000 grant for the shelter this year.
City officials still maintain that they contacted the YWCA regarding the program before the application deadline, but that the agency was not interested. Douglas still disputes that, but neither side wants to make much of the other's alleged mistake at this point.
"It was something that fell through the cracks, an oversight," Douglas said. "They've worked to turn that around, and they're requesting the money. I'm optimistic we'll get it."