Money for charities wearing thin | SierraSun.com

Money for charities wearing thin

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE” As economic problems continue to trickle down and affect countless people, the nonprofit agencies that were created to help citizens through tough times are faced with answering a difficult question. How do we do more with less?

When their fiscal year begins on July 1, 2009, The Family Resource Center of Truckee can expect significant cuts.

And while they and other health and human service agencies try to devise strategies to trim their budgets in preparation for sweeping resource cuts, they are all faced with an increased demand for their services.

The trickle is approaching a torrent.

“We have heard from Nevada County that we are looking at a 29 to 30 percent cut across the board,” said Adela Gonzalez del Valle, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center of Truckee.

As a way to address dwindling resources, Gonzalez del Valle expects to cut back on staff hours for the Resource Center’s three full-time and two part-time employees. Decreasing drop-in hours and transitioning to a more appointment-based service is also a possibility, she said.

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With 17 percent more people recently seeking support with housing issues, eviction judgments are making it difficult to qualify for affordable housing, said Gonzalez del Valle.

Recently, the Resource Center has been working with landlords to drop eviction charges, an effort that aims to get families in affordable housing and keep them in the community.

And now, more than ever, financial hardships are affecting a wide swath of the community, not just one section of it.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who have never been in the system coming into the system,” said Gonzalez del Valle.

When Gonzalez Del Valle started at the Resource Center in January 2006, 97 percent of the people seeking help were Latino.

Today, that percentage has dropped to 49 percent Latino, 42 percent Caucasian, 8 percent mixed and 1 percent Asian.

Though the demographics of people seeking service seem to be leveling, the overall number of those in trouble is increasing. According to Gonzalez Del Valle, Project MANA ” a hunger relief agency ” saw a 38 percent increase for need of service from last year.

“It seems like when need goes up, resources go down,” said George LeBard, Executive Director of Project MANA.

Though LeBard said MANA does not rely as much on county and government grants, they are proactively searching for ways to share what resources they have, many that have come from outstanding community involvement.

“The community has been awesome in terms of food drives and keeping up with their annual donations,” said LeBard.

And while MANA is hoping the community will help them get through the rough patches, many health and human service agencies are turning to each other for help.

According to LeBard, agencies from around Tahoe plan to meet this December to discuss ways to share resources.