February 05, 2013 - 4:23 PM
Abrupt changes to where and how a local non-profit gets its funding has created concern for the independence of Vernon's disabled individuals.
Independent Living Vernon was informed a few months ago that its core funding of $53,500 would no longer be guaranteed each year, as per new regulations. It would instead have to compete with other groups for a share of the cash. Laura Hockman, ILV executive director, says she harboured hope that the changes wouldn't actually be implemented. But despite letters to government officials, the new arrangement is slated to proceed.
"The money will go into a general pot that anyone can apply for—hospitals, universities, other organizations," Hockman says. "I can't go up against a hospital foundation."
Hockman is discouraged by Colin Mayes, Okanagan-Shuswap MP's, position on the matter. He said if ILV has a solid program, then they should have no problem getting selected for the funding.
The organization faces a 35 per cent cut to its funding this year, 30 per cent in 2014 and 35 percent in 2015. After that, they will be forced to depend on the not-so-dependable pot of cash.
"That funding let us have the flexibility to take on things that addressed gaps in the community," Hockman says.
With the cuts, services like the women's only support group will disappear.
Crystal Compton, the youth group support coordinator, will find her schedule reduced from four days a week to one due to the financial strain. She will continue to run a youth peer support group once a week, but drop-ins needing assistance will be out of luck.
"By the time someone walks through the door, it's taken so much for them to get there. If we have to say we can't help them, they might not come back," Hockman says.
Hockman says ILV has worked hard to achieve their reputation as a place people can always come to for help. Now, she fears that image will be tarnished.
"We'll have to start saying no to people," she says.
The organization is a go-to place for individuals struggling with the day-to-day challenges of being disabled.
"Our job is to give people a roadmap through the disability jungle," Hockman says, noting the difficulty of navigating bureaucracy. "We have walk-ins coming in in crisis, needing somebody to give them direction. Our ability to assist them will be very limited."
Hockman's own position will shrink from full to part time. "I see myself doing a lot off the side of my desk," she says.
News of the funding changes is only the most recent of financial surprises for ILV. Funding of $1,500 used for public access computers and printers has also been cut.
Hockman says ILV will do its best with the resources it has. "Things are going to look a lot different around here."
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013