Projects to serve and support the homeless in four states, including Washington and Idaho, have been awarded $3,682,366 by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The funds are provided by Congress from fiscal year 2011 funds and awarded by HUD. Secretary Shaun Donovan and HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride awarded the $3,682,366 for 28 projects in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.
“There are so many different reasons and ways to help make a change,” says Leland Jones, a spokesperson for the local HUD chapter. “You look at a group of 10 homeless people and each one will have a different reason for being in their position. So what we do is ask the local nonprofit organizations to decide what the best plan and course of action is and decide where the funding will be best used.”
Spokane organizations Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho and Catholic Charities will receive a portion of this grant to fund projects to help homeless citizens. The former will be allotted $68,635, which will allow them to add six units to their 102 units for chronically homeless, single adults with disabilities.
"What we do is find a nonprofit or a private landlord and tell them that we want to rent out units for this purpose,” says Jon Carollo, director of housing for the group. “When a person is able to support themselves and is ready to leave, we can begin help someone else.”
"The units are one-bedroom apartments that help these people become stable,” says Mary Tracey, development director for the group. “We pay for the units and help with food and trying to get them employed. Self-sufficiency is always our goal, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone.”
According to Volunteers of America, "chronic homeless" is defined as being a person who has been homeless for more than one year or four times within the last three years.
“What we try to do is help them break the barriers that are stopping them from success,” says Tracey.
Catholic Charities of Spokane was also allotted $131,649 from the grant. The organization sponsors seniors, persons with disabilities, families, and single parents with their children.
“We always have regulations to ensure that the federal funds are spent and used as intended for the projects presented by the various groups,” says Bill Fattic, Spokane’s HUD field office director.
HUD had already awarded almost $64.8 million in fiscal year 2011 funds to renew funding to existing homeless projects in the Northwest in late December 2011. This new grant will help continue to fund projects both old and new in the Northwest.
“We use this money to help people become independent,” says Carollo. “When someone goes into this program, our goal is to help them make a home.”