Saturday, December 26, 2009

HUD money in Connecticut will try to combat long-term homelessness

From The Hartford Courant:

Agencies that serve homeless people across Connecticut will receive more than $28.7 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue providing services that combat homelessness.

The money, announced Dec. 23, is part of a $1.4 billion national package to reduce long-term homelessness, according to a HUD news release. HUD's Continuum of Care program will allow 57 agencies in Connecticut to finance existing permanent supportive housing programs and to provide such services as job training, health care, mental health counseling and child care.

Carol Walter, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, applauded HUD's decision to award the money so soon after last month's application deadline. The quick turnaround will allow agencies to avoid cash-flow problems.

The money is in addition to Connecticut's HUD award this summer of nearly $17 million for a new Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. Providers are also anticipating HUD's announcement early next year of new funding for additional programs.

The $28.7 million renewal money comes as agencies across Connecticut struggle to serve a growing number of homeless families, many of whom have lost their homes because of the recession and high rents.

The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will receive the biggest award: $12.2 million. Walter's group received $219,188 for statewide data collection and analysis of homelessness, a HUD requirement. HUD awarded the biggest grants in Hartford to the Community Renewal Team, for $1.6 million, and Immaculate Conception Shelter & Housing Corp, for $700,466.

The money will allow Immaculate Conception to maintain its supportive housing program, which includes 60 HUD-supported apartments and case management for men and women with disabilities, said Fred Lynn, Immaculate's executive director.

The Friendship Service Center of New Britain will receive the biggest award in that city: $642,269. The money will pay for services for about 30 families with disabilities who live in the community, said Ellen Perkins Simpson, executive director.

The program pays about two-thirds of the families' rents and the families pay the rest. Clients also receive social services to help keep them in their apartments. Disabilities include mental illness, substance abuse and physical disabilities.

Perkins Simpson applauded HUD's efforts to reduce the nation's growing number of homeless people. She said that though some of the Friendship Center's clients will always need support, others become independent, including three former clients who bought homes.

"We're obviously tremendously grateful that they're redoing our grants because without it, we couldn't continue the program," she said. "It really works."