The City of Norfolk, Va., owes at least 15 social service agencies as much as $650,000, some of it since 2017, according to a report in The Virginian-Pilot. That includes nonprofits responsible for the city’s homeless and domestic violence shelters.
Some of the cash owed is from federal money paid to the city, according to the report. City Manager Doug Smith was quoted by The Virginian-Pilot as telling the city council: “We made mistakes. We’re going to own them. We’re going to figure them out and we’re going to fix them.” he said. He reportedly told the city council the situation is “unacceptable.”
Leaders at local nonprofits have complained for a long time. “The City of Norfolk is doing business on the backs of the nonprofits and we should not have to float the money for 18 months,” Stacie Walls-Beegle, CEO for the LGBT Life Center, told City Council members, as reported by The Virginian-Pilot.
The federal grant money is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Service providers must go through the city for reimbursement. The city invoices to HUD and once HUD disburses the money, the city is supposed to pass it along to the nonprofits. The money is supposed to be turned around in 90 to 120 days.
City officials have blamed complex federal rules and a lack of staff for the situation. There reportedly is just one full-time employee and one part-timer handling the HUD program, which is roughly $4 million.
Among those reportedly owed cash are For Kids ($160,000 since July 2017), the LGBT Life Center ($43,000 since July 2017), and YWCA of South Hampton Roads ($24,000), which operates the city’s only domestic violence shelter. The Planning Council had to get an $80,000 line of credit to handle the delays in payment, Angela Kellam of The Planning Council was quoted as saying and that nonprofits are leaving the city.