Updated Mon, Jan 6, 2014 10:15 am
Two area organizations received grants from the Ohio Development Services Agency to help keep emergency shelters open and give the homeless a place to stay.
Integrated Services of Appalachian Ohio received $395,000 through the Homeless Crisis Response Program. Good Works received $44,800 to go toward the operation of Timothy House, the only emergency shelter in the region.
The Homeless Crisis Response Program is new and replaces the Emergency Shelter and tenant-based supportive housing components of previous years. The goal of the program is to prevent homelessness and, when it does happen, to provide emergency shelter or get the person or family into permanent housing.
Although the program is new, the funds are not. Good Works did experience a cut in its funding from last year, but it’s unclear by how much. A representative from Good Works could not be reached for comment before The Messenger’s deadline. Penny Martin, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Development Services Agency, said 30 percent of the program is based on competitive criteria. Good Works didn’t meet all the criteria to receive the same amount of funding from previous years, she said.
Statewide, the Ohio Development Services Agency gave more than $26.3 million in grants to 80 organizations to support homeless prevention, emergency shelters and transitional and supportive housing projects. More than 49,000 Ohioans are expected to be assisted through the program.
Terri Gillespie, regional coordinator for Integrated Services, said the funds will be used to help individuals and families in Athens, Hocking, Perry, Vinton, Jackson, Meigs and Gallia Counties.
“Most of the funds go to those who are homeless,” Gillespie said. “Some of it goes to homeless prevention.”
Helping someone who is homeless might mean connecting him or her to an emergency shelter, which there are few of in the region, or covering a security deposit for a new home. That’s also a challenge, Gillespie said, because there is a shortage of affordable housing opportunities, particularly in Athens County.
Homeless prevention measures can include paying a family’s back-rent or covering rent for a certain period of time until a family has been stabilized.
Last year, Integrated Services served about 165 households.
Gillespie stressed not all referrals to the homeless program result in money being paid out.
“There are a lot of housing issues that can be solved without accessing the money,” she said, adding negotiating with landlords is the first step. “We’re helping people problem solve. The goal is to end homelessness, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.”