Two local agencies have just been awarded grants by U.S. Housing and Urban Development that will expand housing programs for homeless people in the area.
Surry Homeless and Affordable Housing Coalition (SHAHC), located in Dobson, has received word that it will receive $129,427 in HUD funding, which will provide six units of permanent housing for homeless people with disabilities. Crossroads Behavioral Healthcare, based in Elkin, received a $346,560 grant to be used toward shelter and care for eight homeless people with mental illnesses.
Michele Steele, housing placement specialist for Crossroads, said the Crossroads funds will be used for programs in Iredell and Yadkin counties and the SHAHC funds for Surry.
Jane Motsinger, president of the SHAHC board, said the agency received grant funding for six units three years ago. The new funding will double the program. It will provide permanent housing for four one-bedroom units, one two-bedroom unit, and one three-bedroom unit.
The funding will allow people with disabilities to be housed in regular rental housing. The grant provides funding for a 3-year period, and then it can be renewed on a year-to-year basis. Motsinger said the initial six units were just approved for another year.
To qualify for one of the HUD-funded slots, Motsinger explained, “People have to be homeless, and they have to have a disability.”
She said people have to be living in a homeless shelter or living on the street to qualify as homeless according to HUD standards. SHAHC receives referrals from local shelters for the program.
Households who receive one of the housing slots will be able to stay in the program as long as they want to. There is also a case management component to the program. Motsinger said the funds from HUD probably won’t be received until the first of next year.
The grant is much needed in Surry, according to Motsinger. She said, “Homelessness is a big problem in the county.”
She said that on January 25, 2010, there were 115 homeless people in the county.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
Motsinger explained that the January number included those who were living in homeless shelters, campers, or on the streets on that particular day. But she said the number is constantly fluctuating, and people forced to live with family or friends were not included in the statistic.
“It’s a growing problem ... The economy is just really hard on people, and rent is expensive,” she said.
The main purpose of SHAHC is to increase the number of affordable housing opportunities in Surry County. The group handles housing programs and serves as an advocate for issues related to homelessness.
The Crossroads funding is limited to Yadkin and Iredell counties right now, but Steele said it is possible the funding will include Surry County in the future. Crossroads funds provide shelter and mental health care services for eight people in Yadkin and Iredell counties.
David Crosby, director of customer services and housing for Crossroads, said the agency already has a waiting list to take advantage of the shelter and care program. Crossroads Behavioral Healthcare is a local management entity for mental health services in Iredell, Surry and Yadkin counties
HUD is awarding nearly $190 million in grants for homeless assistance programs in the United States. The funding will go to 550 projects, reaching nearly 20,000 homeless individuals. The funding is part of HUDs Continuum of Care program.
The department also has contributed to the new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program that was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program for Surry and Yadkin counties is administered by the Surry County Department of Social Services, but the grant effort for the program was initiated by SHAHC.
A few months ago, DSS was forced to place a cap on the new homelessness prevention program due to the overwhelming response. Caseworkers have continued to take calls and referrals and to provide information, but they were forced to stop taking new applicants until the caseload drops.
Wayne Black, director of Surry County DSS, noted at the time, “I think there’s more folks than I thought that are in desperate need of help.”
Contact Meghann Evans at email@example.com or 719-1952.