Conn. Cities, DSS To Receive $17M To Fight Homelessness
July 14, 2009
The state Department of Social Services and five of Connecticut's largest cities will receive nearly $17 million for programs that combat homelessness.
The money, awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will fund the state's new Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. That program was auditioned last year during pilot programs in New Haven, Bridgeport, Mystic and Hartford.
The federal grants, issued to nearly 500 communities across the nation, will help people who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness. Services will include short-term and medium-term rental assistance and help paying rental security deposits, utility payments and moving costs. Case managers will also help clients find apartments, resolve credit problems and find legal services to prevent them from becoming homeless.
The state will also add a related component to the state's 211 telephone directory, said Carol Walter, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. Hot line operators, who currently provide callers with information about social services, will also determine the eligibility of callers for rapid rehousing and homeless prevention programs.
The federal grants will be awarded as follows:
•The state Department of Social Services will receive $10.8 million.
•Hartford will receive $1.6 million.
• New Britain will receive $772,700.
•New Haven will receive $1.5 million.
• Waterbury will receive $931,000.
•Bridgeport will receive $1.4 million.
Agencies across the state have submitted proposals for the $10.8 million that DSS will distribute to five regions across the state. That money will help augment the individual awards HUD issued to Connecticut's urban cores, Walter said.
DSS has hired Walter's group to coordinate DSS' request for proposals and to help train groups that submit winning bids. The submission deadline was July 1.
DSS, which asked applicants to collaborate with other agencies, expects to recommend the best candidates to Commissioner Michael Starkowski by next Monday, and to begin negotiating with them the following week. Anti-homelessness services are scheduled to begin Sept. 8.
The state must use the grants within the next three years and provide HUD with an analysis of the effectiveness of the programs.
Diane Paige-Blondet, executive director of My Sisters' Place in Hartford, said she hopes her agency, which provides transitional housing for up to two years, will be among the winners. The agency wants to build 30 apartments on its 1.5-acre parcel on Pliny Street. The apartments would provide permanent support to help lift families out of homelessness.
The agency has raised money for the multimillion-dollar project, but is depending primarily on the federal stimulus money, Paige-Blondet said.
"If you ask anyone who's in a shelter, they would tell you, 'I would rather have permanent housing ... than to have to leave after 30 days or 90 days,'" she said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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