ARRA helps municipalities expand homeless services
Many municipalities are using money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to broaden or overhaul their approach to emergency housing, according to the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) most recent annual survey on hunger and homelessness. Particularly, officials in 18 cities responding to the survey say the $1.5 billion included in ARRA for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) will “fundamentally change the way they provide services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.”
This year’s survey of 27 cities included a new section on programs funded by ARRA. According to the report, about half of the cities received additional funding through The Emergency Food Assistance Program, with 76 percent receiving additional funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Additionally, 16 cities were awarded or applied for money from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and 26 cities reported funding from HPRP.
In Cleveland, HPRP funds are being used for services that focus on homelessness prevention and finding permanent housing for people in shelters. “We really recognize this as an opportunity to do some system changes that we had been talking about, but hadn’t had the resources to fully implement,” says Ruth Gillett, manager of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services. Approximately $4 million of the more than $14 million the region received through the program has been directed to prevention programs, and $6 million has been earmarked for rapid re-housing programs for the homeless, Gillett says.
Gillett’s office used some of the remaining money to develop a central intake system for homeless shelters that assesses clients and helps them take advantage of programs to avoid evictions and shelter stays. Other prevention efforts provide temporary rent assistance to families with stable incomes to keep them from becoming homeless. “[With the additional money from HPRP,] the emphasis is on trying to develop interventions that would take place prior to the point where someone is actually being evicted,” Gillett says.
Download the USCM Hunger and Homelessness report.