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Congressman Mike Thompson

Representing the 5th District of CALIFORNIA

Napa Valley Register: Federal funding restored to Fair Housing Napa Valley

Oct 6, 2015
News Articles
By Howard Yune

Nearly a year after losing its federal grant support, Napa County’s housing advocacy group is on the verge of regaining its lifeline.

Officials with Fair Housing Napa Valley have confirmed the approval of a new three-year grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD is allotting the Napa nonprofit $279,467 during the first year, starting on or shortly after Nov. 1, according to Pablo Zatarain, Fair Housing’s executive director.

The new grant, which Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, announced last week, would end a fiscal squeeze that had pinched the Napa housing advocacy group since its previous federal funding – a three-year, $1 million HUD package – ran out in November 2014. Over the summer, Napa city and county approved a total of $65,000 to keep Fair Housing’s doors open while it waited for fresh federal support.

“With this grant we’re ready to step up operations and continue what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years,” said Ray Martinez, president of the Fair Housing board.

HUD can renew the grant for two more years if Fair Housing meets a set of about 25 standards including numbers of clients, referrals of cases to federal and state authorities, and outreach to tenants, Zatarain said Monday. The amount of federal support in the second and third years has not been determined, he said.

Fair Housing’s future had been clouded by the rejection of an earlier grant request to HUD, which Martinez has said was linked to a delay in the federal agency releasing paperwork the Napa group needed for its application.

Former staff members and city officials had described the shortfall as part of a chain of fiscal stress, including the loss of contributions from Auction Napa Valley and the erosion of federal block grant money.

Founded more than a decade ago, Fair Housing represents Napa Valley renters involved in disputes with landlords. The organization also helps to build cases against property owners for alleged discrimination against minorities, seniors, families with children, and other groups protected under the law.