County’s homelessness prevention program sees cut in funding

BROOKVILLE — Jefferson County’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) received disappointing news to begin 2012.

HPRP, which is under the direction of Community Action Inc., recently received a funding cut of $10,000.

According to HPRP Director Susan McLaughlin, the action, which was handed down from the state Department of Community & Economic Development, caused the necessity of a budget revision to ensure funds are available to provide service and assistance to only those already approved and enrolled in the program.

The funding cut means HPRP cannot enroll new people in the program at this time; the program’s funding was reduced from $187,861 to $177,861.
“We won’t be able to bring in any new people,” McLaughlin said.

Not only is the program suffering from a funding cut now, but the entire program’s future is also unknown.

HPRP was initiated in 2009 through a three-year grant. The grant funding officially ends in August, but McLaughlin believes all the county’s funding will be expended by June.

So now, the future of the program is contingent upon receiving money from a new funding source.

“This type of program may continue in the future, but it will have to be funded through another source,” she said. “And we haven’t determined yet if we’re going to apply for those funds or not.”

According to McLaughlin, HPRP serves two specific populations: Those who are actually homeless, who may be living in an emergency shelter; or those who are nearly homeless and who have fallen behind on their rent, through no fault of their own.

HPRP helps homeless individuals with case management assistance and the first month’s rent.

But eligibility for the program is very stiff. Of 292 households that were screened since 2009, only 247 were ineligible.

“They have to have simply exhausted every other resource,” McLaughlin said. “They have to have nothing of value, and they have to show that they’ve gone through the Salvation Army already.”

Despite the program’s restrictions, Community Action Inc. is able to help a majority of those who apply, even if it is not through HPRP.

Community Action has served 122 individuals to date, through case management, financial assistance or referrals to other housing programs.
But McLaughlin is proud of the service HPRP has provided to the county for the past three years. The program has stabilized and successfully exited 32 families, who have been saved from eviction and are now housed.

Thirteen households are currently active.

“I think it’s been extremely helpful to some families,” she said. “HPRP is able to give a family the time they need to get on their feet.”

The county also makes families with children a No. 1 priority.

“Anything to reduce homelessness — especially in children — is a positive,” McLaughlin said.

Although McLaughlin is not sure if a new funding stream will be established, an Emergency Solutions grant through the Department of Community & Economic Development may provide for such a program in the future. But that also will not be decided upon until June.

Until then, the funding that still remains will continue to provide for the county’s homeless.

“If somebody out there is homeless, they’ll be referred to us (Community Action), whether they’re eligible for HPRP or not,” she said.