Pulaski County awarded $50,000 to find, secure housing for homeless

Posted: January 22, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Pulaski County has been awarded $50,000 to find and secure housing for people in its first foray into administering two federal homelessness programs.

The Community Services Department was awarded the money through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a news release.

The yearlong grant, called an emergency solutions grant, will fund two projects.

Thirty thousand dollars will go toward "rapid re-housing," while $20,000 will go to homelessness prevention.

Last year, the department applied for the grant because it saw the need, Director Fred Love said.

"We were getting phone calls for this service, and we found that we couldn't [serve] the constituents that were calling, because we didn't have any funding for that," he said.

Rapid re-housing models were put in place across the county as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.

The idea is to move families and people living on the streets or in emergency shelters into permanent housing as quickly as possible. Money is used for rent, utilities, rental applications and deposits.

"This is best practices for battered women, women and children," said Mandy Davis, who directs the Jericho Way Resource Center, a Little Rock facility where homeless people can get hot meals and showers.

Rapid re-housing is a different tactic than transitional housing, which provides people with temporary homesteads, typically a room or apartment in a residence with support services.

Transitional housing has fallen out of favor with the federal Housing Department in recent years.

Pulaski County officials will distribute surveys to find eligible people for the two housing programs.

Beginning today, , the survey will be available at the Little Rock office of the Central Arkansas Development Council, Love said. The address is 5401 S. University Ave.

People who answer "yes" to one of four questions might qualify and will be referred to the Community Services Department. Existing county employees will oversee the projects, Love said.

Those helped by the rapid-rehousing money must currently be homeless. Homelessness prevention assistance is only available to people who are facing eviction or at risk of becoming homeless, the release said.

Applicants will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis, Love said. Interested people and families can also reach out to the Community Services Department directly. The general inquiries phone number is (501) 340-6157.

"We're already getting calls," Love said.

How many people the $50,000 can help depends on several factors, including family size and how much a person or family is in arrears.

As a ballpark figure, each project could help about seven families that occupy a two bedroom household, though that number could vary, a county spokesman said.

"What we're trying to do is create a continuum," Love said, adding it will be easier to do because the county already receives federal funding for other housing projects.

"We already kind of have that apparatus set up," he said.

The grant "will allow us to expand our services, by helping those who are at risk of becoming homeless and those currently without homes to get some necessary relief," County Judge Barry Hyde said in a statement.

Hyde also noted a "disproportionate number of the state's homeless population resides within Pulaski County, which is why it is incumbent upon us to address this issue head-on."

According to the Central Arkansas Team Care for the Homeless, there were about 990 homeless people in the greater Little Rock area in 2017.

Eighty-four of those people were children, based on a count taken last January.

Information for this article was contributed by Ginny Monk of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 01/22/2018