What Homelessness Grants Mean for Cities Large & Small
The highly competitive HUD homelessness grants for 2016 are to focus on rapid rehousing and permanent housing solutions throughout the country.
The city of Jonesboro, Ark., will receive a $94,000 federal grant for rapid rehousing efforts to combat homelessness in Northeast Arkansas. It's part of a $1.95 billion grant package from the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care program, a competitive homelessness grants program.
The work of Mayor Harold Perrin’s Task Force to End Homelessness helped the city compete for the money, according to the NEA Report. Prior to receiving this grant, Jonesboro's only source of funding for homelessness work over the past five years has been the Community Development Block Grants.
“This grant is something I’ve been hoping for, because it allows us to place homeless individuals and families into permanent housing,” said Perrin.
Competition is Steep
Nationally, the grants are highly competitive. Places like Indianapolis lost federal money last year, but application efforts resulted in a $5 million HUD CoC grant in 2016.
Changing HUD priorities required municipalities to rethink their directions. Most cities were awarded 2016 funding for rapid rehousing and "permanent" housing programs over programs that did not show as much success.
When Indianapolis did not meet the requirements last year, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration formed a committee that shifted its proposal from transitional housing to more permanent solutions, according to WISHTV8.com.
Indi's $5 million will help fund 27 projects that provide permanent housing and support, like mental health and drug addiction programs.
For Honolulu, Hawaii, the worst city for affordable housing in 2016, the Consolidated Public Housing 2016 program will receive about $5.2 million.
Earlier this year, EfficientGov reported that residents of the city pay about twice what is considered affordable at the Federal level in housing costs. Those earning the annual mean wage simply can't afford market rents, and with few affordable housing opportunities, they find themselves looking for shelter.
The state actually has one of the worst homelessness problems in the country, and will receive more than $11 million in CoC grants from HUD.
According to the Wall Street Journal, homelessness in Hawaii has risen 36 percent since 2010. In 2015 alone, homelessness in Hawaii increased more than 10 percent, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. That year, Governor David Ige issued an emergency homelessness proclamation, and extended it several times to erect shelters as quickly as possible. Unable to find space at homeless encampments, many people are forced to live on city sidewalks.
According to the state's consolidated plan, cities will use 2016 CoC grant awards for tenant or sponsor‐based rental assistance and support services for homeless with serious mental illness, substance addiction and other disabling conditions as well as for victims of domestic violence. Some funds will be used to lease and operate permanent supportive housing facilities.
A Transition to Permanent Solutions?
Ventura County, Calif., received $1.9 million and will embark on two new projects.
Most of the homeless in this county are historically women and children. Places like the RAIN Transitional Center have provided them meals, case management, employment assistance including transportation, life skills courses on like money management and more until they are able to shift to permanent housing.
But with HUD's emphasis on rapid rehousing and permanent solutions, the county re-allocated 2016 funding from RAIN to a new permanent housing project as well as housing subsidies.
Emma Agnew, the Jonesboro task force facilitator and a member of the Arkansas city’s grants department, said the city's CoC grant will also subsidize rents and utilities.
It can be up to two years, though I don’t see it lasting two years. It depends on where they are in their journey as to what it will provide,” she said.