Archive for Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lawrence awarded $648,000 homelessness-prevention grant

October 1, 2009, 10:11 a.m. Updated October 1, 2009, 3:14 p.m.


Lawrence to receive money to prevent homelessness

Lawrence scored a major financial windfall Thursday to help do away with homelessness. Enlarge video

About 150 Douglas County families who are living on the financial edge are expected to receive a boost from a new federal grant awarded to Lawrence housing leaders on Thursday.

The city and the Douglas-County Housing Authority will receive $648,000 as part of a federal stimulus program designed to provide rental and utility assistance to people who are on the verge of becoming homeless or have recently lost their homes.

“We think this will be huge for some families,” said Margene Swarts, the city’s assistant director of Planning and Development Services, which applied for the grant. “For some families, we think it will be the difference between staying in a home or being on the street.”

The program — which will distribute money countywide — will be able to provide up to three months worth of rental assistance to people in danger of being evicted. The program also will be able to help people who face eviction because of past-due utility bills.

In addition, the program will work to find housing for people who have recently lost their homes. Much of the money will be used to fund the Housing Authority’s new e-Housing Connection program that attempts to connect landlords who have vacant apartments with people in need of a home.

The program has been running since January, but has had little money to pay out to landlords. Since January, the program has successfully housed 11 people.

“We’re definitely hoping that more landlords will participate as they see there is a solid stream of funding for the program,” said Heather Hoy, who coordinates the program for the Housing Authority. “We think this can be a win-win because there are definitely a lot of landlords out there who have properties that have been sitting vacant for quite awhile.”

The new grant money is expected to be available for local leaders to spend by early November. People can apply for assistance through the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, or through case managers with other social service agencies such as ECKAN or the Ballard Center. None of the money will be paid directly to individuals or households, but instead to third parties such as landlords or utility companies.

The money won’t be available to people who are facing foreclosure on a home that they own. The funding also can’t be used to help finance the construction of a new homeless shelter, which is currently being planned by the Lawrence Community Shelter.

Swarts said the program is not designed to provide assistance to the chronically homeless, but rather is aimed at providing short-term help to people who are facing a sudden financial crisis.

The list of area residents in that category is growing quickly, social service leaders said. Hoy said she has 36 households on the waiting list for an apartment through the e-Housing Connector, with the majority being single mothers. The Lawrence Community Shelter also has seen a significant increase in the number of families seeking to stay at is homeless shelter.

“There are just a lot of people who have lost their jobs, are experiencing furloughs or have had their hours cut,” said Swarts. “If this program can pay three months of their rent, that is three months that they can concentrate on feeding their families, finding better employment and just getting their lives in order.”

The grant money is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. The city was awarded the money through the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation.


Reuben Turner 8 years, 8 months ago

amen!! i hope that the money is really put to good use.

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 8 months ago

One of this town's biggest problems, IMHO.

Vinny1 8 years, 8 months ago

Get these people a job. If they aren't trying to get one, don't give them a dime.

Noweigh 8 years, 8 months ago

I agree keeping the housed from becoming homeless is imperative. However, this program hopefully is more than just handing out checks. With check distributions should be questions about what steps they're taking to keep themselves housed...job searchs, debt workouts, etc. If not, the money will eventually run out and nothing changes.

blindrabbit 8 years, 8 months ago

Great news if Lawrence really uses money to move the program from one of status quo and warehousing to one that really helps people retun to a productive life. Lawrence has had options in the past, but the do-gooders here will not "take the bait"; such as the Topeka example.

Bad news if the 10th and Kentucky situation continues; Salvation Army realized the mess in Lawrence and gave up. Loring, Hilda and the "churches" need a reality check.

50YearResident 8 years, 8 months ago

Provide this assistance only to local residents with a 5 year history in Lawrence. Give nothing to transients,i.e. (bums) or new people coming to town for the benefits.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence is not the only community receiving these funds.

Lawrence has had a serious shortage of real good paying jobs for at least 25 years.

According to radio news this AM Wal-Mart has more employees on medicaid than any other retailer. Yes Wal-Mart loves taxpayers.

Bobp 8 years, 8 months ago

As long as they take a drug test (and pass it) BEFORE any assistance is provided, I wouldn't have a problem with this new government give(my taxes)away.

budwhysir 8 years, 8 months ago

Will this money be used to buy more buses for the T or to revitalize downtown to offer more spacious and plush sleeping arrangements on the sidewalk.

das 8 years, 8 months ago

Give them a fish.....teach them to fish....Which one are we doing again?

Laurie Lagomarcino Marlowe 8 years, 8 months ago

Yes, consumer1. And the far right is so far right they are out of touch with reality. Read the article.

"The money won’t be available to people who are facing foreclosure on a home that they own. The funding also can’t be used to help finance the construction of a new homeless shelter, which is currently being planned by the Lawrence Community Shelter..."

"...the program is not designed to provide assistance to the chronically homeless, but rather is aimed at providing short-term help to people who are facing a sudden financial crisis..."

thinkagain 8 years, 8 months ago

das - They're giving them a small fish so they don't drown/starve/sink before the fishing poles to catch bigger fish are available.

Moderateguy 8 years, 8 months ago

If people would stop giving money to the panhadlers / travelers / transients / bums, that would be a start. After that we can create programs that help people up and hold them accountable for their actions. We have the opposite approach currently and it's fairly obvious how that's working out. Last Saturday morning downtown I walked past a woman with a small child holding a sign something like "homeless family, anything helps." About an hour later, I again saw this woman around the corner with her male partner. He had a roll of cash too big to get his hand around with many of them being $20. Nice way to pimp out your baby you worthless wench. If you want to give your hard earned money to help homeless people, donate to an organization that provides a hand up with some strings attached. The bums will move on to scam somebody else, and we can have our downtown back.

Boeing 8 years, 8 months ago

sierraclub - we all ARE giving to this program already...where do you think the money comes from, Mars? Nope, you and I, the federal tax payers.

That being said, this is good. I support this oh so much more than just throwing money at out-of-town homeless that come for the free stuff and never, ever, ever, ever leave.

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

so we can throw away money on bums but can't bus our own children to school? wtf? why not just close some schools and let the bums live inside of them already? this town will look like detroit in a few years.

tbaker 8 years, 8 months ago

"Lawrence awarded..."

Think about that, we had to be "awarded" something, like a whimpering serf at the foot of his Fedzilla master. Sickening...

How about just abolishing the Department of Health and Human Services, save the billions in budget they spend, let the money otherwise sent to them just stay in states, then let the states hand it out for things like this homeless shelter as they see fit. We don't need the Federal Government deciding whether or not to "award" things to our city.

It would be so much more efficient, saving the overhead costs of pumping money through the unnecessary federal bureaucracy would probably mean this grant would have been much larger, and much more responsive.

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