Homeless Prevention And Rapid-Re-Housing Program

February 21, 2012 by staff 

Homeless Prevention And Rapid-Re-Housing Program, Anna Leese was in a tight spot last May when moisture began dripping down the walls of her daughter’s bedroom and grew into mold. Her apartment in Wellsville was no longer safe, but the limited-income, visually-impaired single mother was short on resources.

“I went to Red Cross, they don’t have that type of funding, Salvation Army doesn’t have that type of funding. Social services, landlords don’t like to deal with a guarantee through social services,” said Leese.

Leese found the help she needed through the homeless intervention program at Catholic Charities of Steuben County. They gave her access to funds for a security deposit for a new apartment and helped her with financial planning.

But this year, Catholic Charities can no longer give that kind of assistance.

Homeless funding was decimated last year when in the process of cutting costs, the state consolidated homeless intervention programs and cut their funding from $80 million to $8 million.

Three programs, the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, Homeless Intervention Program/Supplemental Homelessness Intervention Program, and Emergency Shelter Grants programs were merged into the Solutions to End Homelessness Program or STEHP.

Some $5 million of the funding was allocated to New York City.

In 2008, Catholic Charities received $226,799 from the county to run its Homeless Intervention Program. The funding was supposed to last through August 2013; instead it ended in August 2011.

“So if somebody comes in who is homeless, we would still try to help them with other programs and services but we don’t have the financial resources to help them with their first month’s rent. And that’s the hard part because how do you when you’re facing homelessness come up with that kind of money?” said Laura Opelt, executive director of Catholic Charities of Steuben County.

People who used Catholic Charities’ Homeless Intervention Program in the past, like Leese, were able to get funding assistance for security deposits or their first month’s rent. They would then be responsible for rent for subsequent months and enrollment in financial planning training.

The American Red Cross and Salvation Army do not offer housing assistance programs in the Hornell area.

The Steuben County Department of Social Services has seen its budget under STEHP drastically reduced to $189,808 this year.

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