State has $7.2 mil­lion to tackle county home­less­ness

The Modesto Bee - - Front Page - BY KEVIN VALINE kva­[email protected]­bee.com

Cal­i­for­nia has $7.2 mil­lion in one-time money for those who help home­less peo­ple in Stanis­laus County and its cities.

It is part of the $500 mil­lion the state au­tho­rized this sum­mer through its Home­less Emer­gency Aid Pro­gram to help com­mu­ni­ties deal with the home­less­ness cri­sis.

Cal­i­for­nia set aside $150 mil­lion for its 11 big­gest cities and $350 mil­lion for what are called con­tin­u­ums of care. There are 43 of these in the state, and they are made up of lo­cal govern­ment, ser­vice providers and oth­ers who help the home­less.

The lo­cal con­tin­uum is called the Stanis­laus Com­mu­nity Sys­tem of Care, and the $7.2 mil­lion it will re­ceive is based on its 2017 home­less count, which tal­lied 1,661 men, women and chil­dren. The $350 mil­lion is be­ing di­vided among con­tin­u­ums based on their 2017 counts.

“This is a big deal; this is amaz­ing,” said Francine DiCiano, pres­i­dent-ceo of United Way of Stanis­laus County and cochair­woman of the Stanis­laus Com­mu­nity Sys­tem of Care, about the $7.2 mil­lion.

The sys­tem of care has un­til Dec. 31 to ap­ply for the money, and DiCiano said she ex­pects it will re­ceive the money in spring.

DiCiano said the sys­tem of care’s lead­er­ship re­cently di­vided up how the money will be spent, with $5 mil­lion set aside for cap­i­tal im­prove­ments and $1 mil­lion for ser­vices for home­less youth or youth at risk of be­com­ing home­less.

She said about $500,000 will be set aside for ser­vices (which can in­clude street out­reach and nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams) and about $500,000 for ren­tal as­sis­tance and sub­si­dies to help peo­ple get into or stay in hous­ing.

DiCiano said 5 per­cent of the $7.2 mil­lion is re­quired to go to­ward ad­min­is­tra­tive costs.

The cap­i­tal im­prove­ments can in­clude shel­ters, tran­si­tional hous­ing, per­ma­nent sup­port­ive hous­ing as well as im­prove­ments to ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from Home­Base, a con­sult­ing firm work­ing with the Stanis­laus Com­munty Sys­tem of Care.

DiCiano said the sys­tem of care will use a com­pet­i­tive process to award fund­ing to projects and ser­vice providers.

This comes as lo­cal gov­ern­ments con­sider declar­ing an emer­gency shel­ter cri­sis. The

THE LO­CAL CON­TIN­UUM IS CALLED THE STANIS­LAUS COM­MU­NITY SYS­TEM OF CARE, AND THE $7.2 MIL­LION IT WILL RE­CEIVE IS BASED ON ITS 2017 HOME­LESS COUNT

sys­tem of care’s an­nual home­less counts show that about half of the home­less peo­ple counted sleep out­doors and not in shel­ters.

Coun­ties and cities can­not re­ceive money from a con­tin­uum un­less they de­clare an emer­gency shel­ter cri­sis, said Russ Heimerich, deputy sec­re­tary of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Cal­i­for­nia’s Busi­ness, Con­sumer Ser­vices and Hous­ing Agency. The agency in­cludes the Cal­i­for­nia Home­less Co­or­di­nat­ing and Fi­nanc­ing Coun­cil, which is ad­min­is­ter­ing the Home­less Emer­gency Aid Pro­gram.

And there can be some re­stric­tions in how HEAP money is spent in cities and coun­ties that don’t de­clare a shel­ter cri­sis, ac­cord­ing to guid­ance from the state.

Heimerich said declar­ing a cri­sis does not ob­li­gate a lo­cal govern­ment to build a shel­ter, just that it use any HEAP money it re­ceives to help home­less peo­ple.

Tur­lock City Man­ager Bob Law­ton said if his coun­cil mem­bers de­cide to de­clare a cri­sis that will give them the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss whether Tur­lock should put to­gether a project and com­pete for fund­ing.

Stanis­laus County’s Board of Su­per­vi­sors and the city coun­cils for Modesto and Tur­lock are ex­pected to con­sider declar­ing a cri­sis next week. The city man­agers for the county’s seven other cities said their coun­cils also will con­sider dec­la­ra­tions this month.

Heimerich said the $500 mil­lion in one-time HEAP fund­ing will serve as a bridge un­til fund­ing be­comes avail­able through propo­si­tions 1 and 2, which Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers ap­proved Nov. 6. The propo­si­tions au­tho­rize $6 bil­lion in bonds for such pur­poses as af­ford­able hous­ing for low-in­come res­i­dents, vet­er­ans and the men­tally ill.

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