$14 Million In Federal Funds Will Support Homeless Programs
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Aired 12/21/11 on KPBS News.
San Diego County organizations will get about $14 million in federal grants to support homeless services for the coming year.
SAN DIEGO Shelters and other homeless services providers in San Diego County saw the renewal Tuesday of about $14 million in federal grants to support their work.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the renewal of more than $1.4 billion in grants, to about 7,100 local homeless programs across the country.
Kyla Calvert discusses the HUD grants with Amita Sharma on Tuesday's show.
Evening Edition airs weekdays at 5 PM and 6:30 PM on KPBS TV
San Diego’s Housing Commission was one of the largest grantees in the county. The $2.4 million the group is receiving supports about 200 shelter beds, according to Rick Gentry, the group's president and CEO.
“This is one part of a multi-pronged effort on the part of the housing commission and the city to deal with homelessness issues. It’s important but there are efforts going on as well," Gentry said.
Affordable housing programs that prevent homelessness, like Section 8 vouchers, make up the bulk of the organization’s budget, according to Gentry. While federal dollars for homeless services are a small part of the support the Commission gets, he said they are a growing one.
The county's largest grantee, St. Vincent de Paul Village, will receive just over $4.1 million. Those funds support about 920 longer-term shelter beds, according to Mielle Schwartz, who oversees the organization's grants. But she said that doesn't come close to covering the cost of all of the services people need.
“We’ve been receiving the same HUD funding for years. There has not been increases to our agency in HUD funding," she said. "So we must continually rely on other sources and build up other sources of funding to maintain our services to the population.”
She said the cost of those services is driven up by the rising cost of living in San Diego, and the increasing number of people who are seeking help from the organization.
Last week HUD reported that a tally of one-night counts from January 2011 of people sleeping on the streets and in shelters from 3,000 cities and counties across the country showed about a 2 percent decline in the number of homeless people counted on a similar night in 2010. In San Diego the trend was reversed. THe local count found almost 9,500 homeless people across the county. That was about 1,000 more people than the year before.