SUFFOLK COUNTY

How local orgs will use $3 million to help the homeless

Local HUD grants used for rental subsidies and support services for homeless and disabled

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Last month, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $2,900,950 in Continuum of Care grants to local homeless assistance programs. The renewal grants are intended to help individuals and families experiencing homelessness, particularly those living in places not meant for habitation, located in sheltering programs or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. The money was allocated to various organizations, including local facilities Concern for Independent Living, of Medford; Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, of Patchogue; and Brighter Tomorrows, of Shirley.

“From our nation’s veterans to our communities’ senior citizens to others just trying to get by, there are so many critical local organizations that help our most vulnerable populations, and it is vital that we ensure they have the support they need to continue their important work,” Zeldin said in a release. “These grants inject funding directly into the heart of our communities through these local organizations, making a real and noticeable difference on the ground for our neighbors in need.”

According to Greta Guarton, executive director of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, the money specifically in our readership area are broken down as follows:

Concern for Independent Living, of Medford

A total of $1,002,862 was given to Concern as a renewal of funding for its Permanent Supportive Housing programs for homeless and disabled households, which are rental programs with units throughout Nassau and Suffolk County. The programs provide rental subsidies and support services to participants. These programs are at or near capacity.

“By funding leasing costs and supportive services, HUD is making it possible for Concern for Independent Living to provide housing and supports to dozens of formerly homeless individuals and families,” said Elizabeth Lunde, Concern’s chief operating officer, excited and appreciative to receive notice of the HUD renewal funding. “We all know that housing is expensive on Long Island; this is a valuable opportunity for persons transitioning from homelessness to be able to live in their own apartments in the community with the help they need to be successful over the long term.”

Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc., of Patchogue

EOC received $817,369 also as a renewal funding for its Rapid Rehousing program in Suffolk County. This program provides shallow, short- to medium-term subsidies, along with support services, to homeless households. The purpose of the program is to provide upfront funding and services with the goal of assisting households to find units they can afford and sustain over time and eventually without assistance.

“This funding is in step with our mission statement to promote a goal of self-sufficiency by broadening the minds of children, revitalizing communities and assisting families and children in need through the provision of services and to coordinate available federal, state, local and private resources,” explained Robert O’Donnell, assistant to the CEO for Supportive Services at Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc. O’Donnell explained that the cost of housing is unaffordable to many community members in shelters or who are homeless on the streets. “With this funding, we have the opportunity to assist them to get into permanent housing and help get them out of their homelessness situation and/or out of poverty… [it] could be the beginning for some of community members start of self-sufficiency.”

Brighter Tomorrows, Inc., of Shirley

A total of $401,547 was given to Brighter Tomorrows for renewal funding for its Rapid Rehousing program in Suffolk County. It is similar to the EOC program, but it serves only victims of domestic violence.

Three other organizations were also chosen for renewal funding for their similar programs, including Options for Community Living, Suffolk County Department of Social Services/Beacon House III and Association for Mental Health and Wellness, all of Ronkonkoma.

The funding, Guarton said, is something these organizations rely on every year. However, the allocations were only part of “Tier 1,” and HUD has not yet announced the full list of awards.

“The Permanent Supportive Housing programs provide much-needed affordable housing with services to homeless households with disabilities. Because it’s permanent, there is little movement and [it] does not significantly impact reductions in homelessness,” she said of the meaning behind the funding and the programs it supports. “The Rapid Rehousing programs potentially can serve more households over time, as the awards provide shorter-term subsidies and those households will eventually not need the assistance (so it can be “recycled” to another household). 

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