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Grants awarded for Pa. homeless programs

December 23, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded two grants totaling more than $1 million for programs serving the homeless in Franklin and Fulton counties.

Maranatha, a faith-based charity that runs a transitional housing program, will receive $82,390 over the next three years, according to Executive Director Natalie Newcomer. The Franklin County Human Services Division will receive $279,803 over a three-year period to provide permanent housing to the chronically mentally ill, according to Human Services Program Planner Alecha Sanbower.

Maranatha applied for the grant with CIELO, a group of community organizations that includes Franklin-Fulton County Mental Health/Mental Retardation, the Chambersburg YMCA, Network Ministries, House of Grace and others that will provide counseling and other services at the Candleheart Facility in Fayetteville, Pa., Newcomer said.

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Candleheart is a former nursing home that Maranatha leased and opened earlier this year to take in people from area homeless shelters and prepare them to move into transitional housing, Newcomer said. The facility can accommodate 35 or more people, depending whether they come as individuals or as families, she said.

"It's so neat to get all of the agencies in the community working together," Newcomer said of the joint effort. While Maranatha is the sponsor, CIELO will administer the grant, she said.

Newcomer said the goal is to give the people who stay at Candleheart the job and life skills training, drug and alcohol counseling and other assistance they need to escape homelessness. Maranatha then takes them to the next step with transitional housing.

"We have 18 scattered site units in Franklin County that we use for this transition," Newcomer said. From these homes, the goal is to then move the people into their own permanent housing, she said.

"This will provide them with the stability so many homeless people want and need," Sanbower said of the grant the county received.

Through Human Services, the money will be used to rent 10 apartments and efficiencies at scattered sites throughout Franklin and Fulton counties, Sanbower said. Human Services also will provide "intensive case management and support services to help them remain in permanent housing," she said.

The money is not enough to accommodate all of the homeless people with chronic mental illnesses in the two counties, Sanbower said. These are people who, because of their conditions, spend much of their lives going from one homeless shelter to another, or to jail, she said.

Sanbower estimated there are approximately 40 people in the area who fall into that category, Sanbower said.

"It's a great start and we're going to continue to look for funding for more housing," she said.

"They're not going to have to shuffle around from shelter to shelter," she said. "They want a place to call home."

HUD this week announced $1.33 billion in housing program grants with more than $63 million allocated to programs in Pennsylvania.

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