County given $3.3 million to reduce homelessness

Local shelters filled, housing supply low

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Agencies in Allegheny County that seek to end homelessness will share $3.3 million in federal grants for new programs.

The four grants will provide money for new apartment construction and rent subsidies that will benefit more than 60 families and individuals.

The awards were announced Wednesday by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. They are among almost $14 million worth of HUD money being distributed to governmental units and social service agencies across Pennsylvania.

The local grants will be overseen by Allegheny County's Department of Human Services. "We applied for funding for four new projects and all four were fully funded," said Mike Lindsay, housing program administrator for the department.

The grants will be distributed to agencies that already provide programs to reduce homelessness.

The amounts and agencies are as follows:

• $1.69 million to Operation Safety Net for the construction of 16 apartments on Ninth Street on the South Side. Operation Safety Net, which provides a variety of services to the homeless, including on-the-street medical care, is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.

• $915,000 to the Community Human Services "Shelter Plus Care" program. The funds will provide rental subsidies for 25 homeless people with physical or psychiatric disabilities.

• $514,260 for Familylinks Community Housing program. The funds will be used to provide rent subsidies for six homeless families and six homeless individuals with disabilities.

• $245,700 for the Hospitality Homes II program. The Allegheny Valley Association of Churches will administer rental subsidies for 10 "scattered site" apartments for homeless families and individuals.

Mr. Lindsay said the grant money should be available in the next three to six months.

"These programs won't solve our local homelessness problem, but it will increase the supply of permanent housing," he said. "Our local shelters are at capacity, and our housing programs have waiting lists."

The Continuum of Care grants were awarded competitively and based on proposals to provide transitional and permanent housing to homeless people. They can be used to fund a variety of services, including job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care.

"This funding is an important part of the Obama administration's new strategy to end homelessness in all its forms," Mr. Donovan said in a statement. "We know that these programs are critical in moving people beyond a life on the streets and placing them on a path toward dignity and self sufficiency."

The new grants, which are being funded with federal stimulus money, follow the awarding in December of $67 million in Continuum of Care grants to existing programs to reduce homelessness. HUD also has allocated another $1.5 billion in stimulus funds for a Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program.


Correction/Clarification: (Published July 9, 2010) Operation Safety Net, which provides services to the homeless, is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System. The sponsor's name was incorrect in this story as originally published July 8, 2010.

Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 724-772-0184.


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