Several different grants through the Emergency Solutions Grant program might be used to help Cowetans prevent homelessness, or get those who have lost their homes off the streets.
A group of different organizations working on sustainable housing issues met this week to talk about the ESG grants.
Homelessness prevention and hotel/motel vouchers are two of the grant opportunities that were discussed, and there are also grants for “rapid rehousing” and supportive services.
The deadline for the grant process is fast approaching, and the group discussed having one existing organization be the main grant applicant and recipient, with other organizations doing the work funded by the grant through agreements.
Frankie Hardin of One Roof Outreach said she is interested in the grant to pay for hotel/motel stays, and Craig Buchanan with Bridging the Gap said he will start researching the prevention. Prevention funding typically goes to rental assistance and deposits and utility payments and deposits, and that's outside the scope of what BTG does now. Buchanan said that while his organization may not end up doing that prevention work, he will be researching things that can be done.
BTG’s current work falls more into the “supportive and essential services” piece of Emergency Solutions Grant funding.
Under ESG, a maximum of $60,000 can be giving for hotel/motel vouchers, and a maximum of $25,000 is available for supportive services. However, there is no limit on the prevention and rapid re-housing grants. Of the total grants awarded, at least 40 percent must be for prevention and rapid rehousing, said Pam Gabel, a volunteer for the Red Cross and organizer of the sustainable housing meetings. Gabel recently attended a workshop for potential ESG applicants.
The grant application has extensive requirements for past history of organizations, financial procedure manuals and minutes from board meetings. The grant recipients should emphasize the “Housing First” approach.
Under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regulations, “Housing First” prioritizes placement in permanent housing over therapeutic outcomes, and Housing First projects will have low barriers to entry and participation.
The grant also requires a 100 percent match from the local organizations. And organizations must use the “homeless management information system” software to track clients.
The group discussed the various ways in which people become homeless and the recurring themes in stories they hear from people who have become homeless.
Gabel said she’d like to categorize that information in a way that helps organizations figure out the right tools to help prevent homelessness in specific situations.
For some people it is loss of a job, for others it’s sickness, divorce or lack of education, Buchanan said.
The group is also concerned about the approximately 150 children and families who are designated “homeless” by the Coweta County School System.
“We may not be able to address everyone of them, but we can start somewhere,” Buchanan said.
The group will meet again next week. In the meantime, group members will be contacting the school system, the Division of Family and Children’s Services and other local organizations that provide services.