Executive director Lydia D. Igitol of the Center for Living Independently-CNMI expressed concerns for the future of their office on Rota, saying that lack of budget would get in the way of providing services to people with disabilities in the southern island.
Igitol noted that at present, the center's Rota office is attached to the island's health center and is serving about ten consumers, majority of whom are seniors and are also served by the Office on Aging.
She said the non-profit group run by and for persons with disabilities has relied on ARRA monies for funding for the last three years, in addition to grants they receive from the U.S. Department of Education to finance their programs and activities.
CLI-CNMI's mission is to ensure the rights of people with disabilities to live independently and fully integrated in the community.
Since the group's ARRA funding is already depleted and without allocation from the local government, Igitol said they would have to deal with financial issues which could affect their consumers on Rota.
“We don't know what's going to be the future for Rota,” she said.
She noted that the funding that the center regularly receives from the federal education department is also reduced each year. For fiscal year 2013 which begins today, the center was awarded some $97,000 which they would use to provide a comprehensive range of services, including information and referral, independent living skills training, peer counseling, transportation, and individual and system advocacy. “We have to keep our expenses within our budget,” said Igitol.
Last fiscal year, the center exhausted its ARRA funding of $35,400 and resulted to the suspension of their free-ride coupon program.
The executive director said that in the future, they will try to seek for any amount of financial assistance from the local government as well as the community to subsidize their programs.