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County gets $91K federal grant

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Dana BrysonThe Wilson Post

Mayor Philip Craighead and more than 35 representatives of local non-profit groups and churches attended a meeting at First United Methodist Church in Lebanon on Wednesday to further discuss how Community Homeless Outreach and Support, Inc. will apply grant funding to local residents in need.  

The grant program has been created as a result of the federal stimulus package put in place more than a year ago to aid economic recovery in the U.S. The grant funding is realized from what is recognized as the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) which is a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that is administered by HUD.

Two other counties adjacent to Wilson are to also receive funding from the program including Smith County, $15,893.94; and Cannon County, $11,482.70. Total funding for all three counties is $118,715.45.

At Wednesday’s meeting it was explained to the agencies and organizations attending that the funding provided is to help people who are either homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. The program is not intended to provide long term financial assistance, but rather temporary assistance that can help families get back on track financially.

Director Liz Reese of Community Homeless Outreach and Support, Inc. wants the program to work closely with non-profit organizations, churches, landlords, utility companies and others to help prevent homelessness.

“When have seen changes for the good.” said Craighead referring to the last time he and non-profit groups and churches met making the switch from Buffalo Valley, Inc. to Upper Cumberland Development District for assistance in community outreach support.

The program will be funded through the Upper Cumberland Development District which is handling the HPRP grant money. Housing Manager Luke Collins and Finance and HMIS Specialist Christian Bucher of the Upper Cumberland Development District are to monitor the program and to ensure that it complies with all government standards.

 ”Taxpayers can see this is the kind of program they want … it is not a handout,” said Collins, as he explained the program did not promote dependence on governmental funding but would help people that could “fall between the cracks” in other cases.

Upper Cumberland will be working with Systems Coordinator James Wheeler of the Upper Cumberland Continuum of Care, who in turn will work hand-in-hand with case managers from Community Homeless Outreach and Support, Inc. Marti Donovan and Katherine Stranahan; and with Reese, who also serves as director of the Brooks House.

Community Homeless Outreach and Support, Inc. stressed applicants for the HPRP program will have to meet a lengthy list of guidelines to be eligible. The list follows:

• Would the individual or family be homeless without this assistance?• Do they make less than or 50% of the Area Median Income• No other housing options• No other financial resources or support networks to obtain or remain in housing.• Meet at least 2 or more risk factors of a list of 17 factors.• Must attend a financial management course.• Must pay 30% of the approved financial assistance.• Must keep in contact with case manager.• Will receive up to 3 months of aid; more months contingent on a case by case basis.

The estimated area median income, according to Colins, for a Wilson County single household was $22,700; for a four-person household it was $32,450. These averages are dependent on the number of persons in a household as it relates to the income of those persons.

The officials involved remind that if a person is not eligible for the HPRP program individuals can be referred to another group, program, or non-profit organization that could help.

For more information or If you are a non-profit group that would like to refer someone, call 630-8993 or 557-2666. Information about the programs also is available at www.helpandhopes.org.  and/or www.ucdd.org/home.htm. Applicants will be seen by appointments only.

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