Federal funding delay could impact Oahu senior services

Federal funding delay could impact Oahu senior services
Updated: Sep. 27, 2017 at 6:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Oahu charities say they're scrambling to ensure services for seniors are not impacted by a delay in federal funding -- and they blame the city for not stepping in.

Child and Family Service, Lanakila Pacific, and Catholic Charities say about a thousand of their elderly clients would be affected if services are cut starting this Sunday, October 1.

"I'm preparing myself. It's going to be tough. We really need the lunches," said Judy Matias, Lanakila Pacific client.

Matias and her husband have relied on Lanakila Pacific's free meals for the last 15 years. She says for many of her friends, it's the only way they have a nutritious meal.

"It's very important because it helps me to do other things in the house, as well as care for him," she said.

The charities say senior housing assistance and transportation could also be affected, but they'll do all they can to keep these programs going until the federal money comes in.

The three charities estimate it will cost them about $150,000 a month to keep services going at full capacity, and they're worried it could hurt other services they provide.

"We're being told to expect that the break could be multiple months, maybe even up through the end of the year. For some of the smaller non-profits, they honestly might not have the budgets to be able to float these services," said Lori Lau, Lanakila Meals on Wheels Director.

"It puts us as providers in a very difficult situation and yet we don't have the resources to just try sustain this on our own," said Howard Garval, president and CEO of Child and Family Service.

The city -- which distributes the federal funds -- says the money is still with the federal government and the charities were notified over a year ago to prepare in case this happened.

The non-profits say federal money has been delayed before and the city would reimburse them for what they spent.

But not this time.

In a statement, the city's said, "In the past there were carryover funds (monies that had not been used in years prior), therefore we had the available resources to continue services. This is no longer the case due to the way federal dollars are currently being awarded to municipalities like the City and County of Honolulu."

The city says its likely new contracts with the charities will be ready by the end of the week, meaning the break in service could be prevented.

"We're definitely taking it a week at a time, but going to try to offer as many services as we can in order to support them," said Lau.

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