Program to help the homeless and near homeless is reopened

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Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh on Monday reopened the Homelessness Prevention & Rapid Re-Housing Program, which provides financial assistance and services to homeless people and the working poor who could become homeless without assistance.

Funded by some $14 million of federal stimulus money, the program, which is coordinated by the county's Department of Human Services, started on Oct. 20 and a waiting list was closed on Nov. 4, as officials cited an exceedingly high call volume and a lack of manpower to process all the calls.

Since then, more than 470 people who applied to the program have been assigned to social services agencies to work through the process of qualification for assistance, county officials said.

Of those, 233 are enrolled in the program, meaning they met the qualifications and are receiving financial assistance, such as rental payments, rental arrearage payments, security deposits, utility payments, utility arrearage payments and utility deposits.

Sixty-eight cases were determined to be ineligible, and the remaining individuals are working through the qualification and needs-assessment process.

And now, the hot line has reopened, because there remains available funding to draw down for the program, county officials said.

Individuals and families can call the HPRP Hotline, 1-877-350-4777, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Information on the program is also available online at www.alleghenycounty.us/recovery/hprp/program.aspx.

To qualify for assistance, participants must be homeless or about to become homeless. In addition, households must be below 50 percent of the area median income, which for a family of four is $31,250, and must have no other housing options or financial resources to obtain housing.

Allegheny County received $6.7 million of the funds from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and the city of Pittsburgh received $6.8 million. Allegheny County also received $826,654 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development for the program.

The program is a partnership of the county Department of Economic Development and the city of Pittsburgh.


Karamagi Rujumba: krujumba@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.


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