Ex-leader of Redditch Borough Council David Roy Cartwright, 52, admitted stealing at least £24,695 from local homeless charity Step Out Drop In.
He also admitted making false claims for the charity totalling £63,467 between June 1997 and April 2001.
Cartwright, of Donnington Close, Redditch, will return to Hereford Crown Court for sentencing on 27 February.
The Step Out Drop In charity has since collapsed.
The court heard how Cartwright, who served as a councillor on three separate occasions between 1986 and 2007, had made false claims to the borough council, a charitable foundation and a government department.
Police were called into investigate the former council leader after Worcestershire County Council's adult services department became suspicious.
Between June 1997 and June 1998 he claimed £21,118 from the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions after saying Step Out Drop In was eligible for a grant to employ an extra member of staff when he knew it was not.
He submitted two invoices between February 2000 and July 2001 for £17,106 and £20,243 to Redditch Borough Council for payments that he knew were fake.
Cartwright, who was leader of the council on three separate occasions between 2002 and 2003, 2004 and 2005, and May 2005 to October 2005, also claimed £5,000 from the Eveson Charitable Trust after sending it a fake builder's invoice.
Det Con Andy Moseley, of West Mercia Police, said: "People often refer to fraud as a victimless crime. It never is.
"In this case, the victims are those homeless and vulnerable people who stood to benefit from this charity but who found themselves looking elsewhere for support and assistance when Mr Cartwright's criminal activity finally and inevitably led to its collapse."