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Fort Wayne chosen for pilot program to assist homeless population - City and social service agencies continuing proactive efforts to address needs
Fort Wayne, Ind. – Mayor Tom Henry and social service partners today announced the City of Fort Wayne has been chosen to participate in a pilot program to assist the homeless population.
The State of Indiana, through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, selected Fort Wayne as one of four pilot communities to reach chronically homeless individuals with the most need for supportive services to bring them into permanent housing.
Along with Bloomington, Evansville, and Lafayette, Fort Wayne will be selecting a coordinated assessment tool to identify the eligible individuals and the appropriate housing options. The first phase of the pilot program focuses on individuals who have a disabling condition, such as a substance abuse disorder, mental illness, or a developmental disability, and either have been continuously homeless for a year or more or have had four episodes of homelessness in the last three years.
Through the assessment process, other resources will be identified for those who do not fit the specific target population.
“We are a City that cares about one another,” said Mayor Henry. “This is a unique opportunity as our entire community continues proactive efforts to assist those in need of help and direction. Thank you to our social service agencies that are committed to being part of the solution as we come together to make a meaningful difference.”
Below are highlights of the ongoing involvement among community partners to reduce homelessness. Collective efforts focus on participation, funding, and projects:
*The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocates several grants to the City each year. The City then funds non-profit programs that are seeking to address the biggest challenges or to serve the most under-served populations of low- and moderate-income families and/or homeless individuals and families.
1. Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program grant from HUD. From 2009-2012, the City provided $844,000 in rental and utility assistance to help families remain stably housed and to rapidly re-house those who are un-housed or in a shelter into a stable housing condition. The City granted funds to three agencies – CANI, Fort Wayne Urban League, and Lutheran Social Services to run the prevention and rapid re-housing programs.
2. Emergency Shelter and Emergency Solutions (ESG) grants from HUD. The City receives funds each year, with nearly $140,000 in 2014. The City has utilized its ESG funds the last two years to lead a program, Ready to Rent, which works with clients currently living in homeless shelters. The program connects eligible clients with 12 months of rental vouchers and other supportive services to help ensure they can maintain and sustain their housing. Key components of the program include educational and employment services and case management to help each client increase income, further stabilizing their housing.
3. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding results in $200,000-$300,000 per year from HUD. CDBG allows for up to 15 percent of the total annual entitlement amount to be used for public services. Many communities have stopped this program in order to utilize the funds for other projects. However, Mayor Henry continues to make this level of funding available for use by the non-profit community to improve the quality of life for low- and moderate-income and/or homeless individuals and families.
Some examples of this funding over the last two years include:
*Just Neighbors Interfaith Homeless Network (the only emergency shelter for families)
*Hope House (program for homeless women with addictions) utilized a grant for employment services to connect clients with jobs
*211/United Way of Allen County to support referrals and resource identification to those calling seeking shelter and basic assistance
*Wellspring (food bank serving the basic needs of the homeless and precariously housed)
*Cedars Hope (transitional and permanent supportive housing for homeless women with mental illness)
The City has also participated in several projects over the last year with a focus on homelessness, including:
*The Courtyard: The City invested $1 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to help with the creation of the Courtyard on the former site of the Duemling Clinic on Fairfield Avenue. This state-of-the-art facility offers 37 apartments designated for youth aging out of foster care, many of whom are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless. The program also offers education and life skills training, as well as connections to resources and employment skills.
*In November 2014, Mayor Henry hosted a roundtable on Veterans Homelessness as part of HUD’s Mayor’s Challenge program. Community stakeholders met to discuss ways to address housing, employment, and other needed services for veterans.
Additional community efforts include the Fort Wayne Area Planning Council on Homelessness, which meets monthly and is co-led by the United Way and the City. The Planning Council is made up of dozens of local agencies, grassroots advocates, governmental entities and faith-based organizations working toward addressing the needs of our community’s most vulnerable individuals.
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