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Homeless Pa. people with disabilities to get housing, services through HUD

March 04, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Ten chronically homeless people with disabilities in Franklin and Fulton counties will get roofs over their heads and the services needed to keep them there with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., recently announced the $283,766 allocation from HUD's Continuum of Care program, which will provide a segment of the homeless population with housing for three years through the Franklin-Fulton Homeless Assistance Project.

Eighty-three percent of the grant, almost $225,000, will go directly toward housing, with the balance to be used to provide transportation services, furnishings, food and emergency supplies, said Alecha Sanbower, a program planner for the Franklin County Human Services Division.

"This is a grant specifically designed to supply housing to people ... to get them the help and linkages they need to be successful and stabilize their lives," Sanbower said.

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"The money provided in the Continuum of Care program is crucial in assisting Franklin County in their efforts to improve the lives of men, women and children who are looking for a way out of poverty," Shuster said in a press release.

Sanbower said the Franklin-Fulton Homeless Assistance Project is tailored not to the general homeless population, but to those who have experienced three, four or more episodes of homelessness and are eligible because of disabilities. Those disabilities include mental illness, substance abuse, those who are HIV positive or have AIDS, people with physical disabilities and qualified veterans, she said.

The county Housing Trust Fund is providing $33,000 in matching funds that will be used for the project's support services, she said.

"In our MH/MR (Mental Health/Mental Retardation) program, they kept saying, 'We've got homeless people and we want to stabilize them,'" Sanbower said.

In February, the waiting list included 19 people waiting for placement in group homes and 34 needing apartments.

Not all of those people necessarily were homeless, with some perhaps staying with friends or relatives or in shelters, Sanbower said.

Referrals to the program could come from the three shelters in the county - the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless and the Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter, both in Chambersburg, or the New Hope Shelter in Waynesboro, Pa., Sanbower said. They also could come from MH/MR, the Housing Assistance Program or other agencies, she said.

Last year, the county received a similar three-year grant of $279,000 to provide housing for people in nine apartments in Franklin County and one in Fulton County, Sanbower said. This grant will be used for another 10 apartments in the two-county area, she said.

There are other programs aimed at the general homeless population, Sanbower said.

Maranatha, a faith-based social services organization, recently had an earlier grant continued, receiving $531,704 for its Total Person Transitional Housing II program.

That program is geared more toward families, while the county project is for individuals, Sanbower said.

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