St. Vincent de Paul will receive two of 22 grants recently announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The grants are part of the Continuum of Care program, which supports 22 homeless programs across Alaska. The federal program will distribute almost $3.5 million in Alaska. St. Vincent de Paul’s share of the grants totals nearly $125,000, a 7.4 percent increase from last year’s total.
St. Vincent de Paul received $98,208 for a Shelter Plus Care program. General Manager and Director Dan Austin said these grants allow the shelter to provide rental subsidies and permanent housing rental vouchers to disabled homeless people.
“What that means is for someone who is homeless and disabled, we can find housing for them and pay a certain percentage from the grant on a sliding scale,” Austin said.
Austin said St. Vincent de Paul currently has seven such households occupied under this program and can have up to eight.
St. Vincent de Paul also got $26,350 in renewal funds for its Paul’s Place program, which is a Supportive Housing Program. Austin said the difference between the programs is Paul’s Place provides permanent housing for those who are chronically homeless, people who find themselves homeless for at least one continuous year or on four separate occasions within three years.
The Shelter Plus Care grants provide for anyone who is currently homeless, regardless of how long they have been homeless.
“The Paul’s Place grant provides three apartments for qualified, disabled, chronically homeless individuals,” he said, noting that all three of these apartments are full and have always been so since beginning in 2007. He said the shelter began receiving the grants for them in 2005.
Austin said the shelter has received the Shelter Plus Care grants every year since 2002, and those occupancies began in 2004.
HUD states a survey of those seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing in 2009 revealed 38 percent have a disability.
Austin said this is an important thing to keep in mind about homeless statistics.
“An important distinction is that a lot of people assume most homeless people choose to live on streets,” he said. “That isn’t right at all. Most are elderly, or disabled or children, and these programs help provide for homeless disabled of any age.”
The Continuum of Care grants are intended to provide permanent and transitional housing for the needy, as well as other services like job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. They are awarded competitively to local programs who set their own priorities on meeting individual community needs for the homeless.
“We’ve faced some pretty tough times these last couple of years,” HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride said in a press release, “and people who’d never, ever have imagined being homeless now find themselves on the street or in a shelter. Fortunately, day in and day out these 22 Alaska projects have helped those at risk stay on their feet and those who are homeless get back on theirs. HUD is proud to help keep their doors open and support the very good work they do.”
• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@