[Hpn] Money for homeless may be a lost cause again

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Fri, 19 Jan 2001 19:01:12 -0700


http://www.sptimes.com:80/News/011801/news_pf/Pasco/Money_for_homeless_ma.sh
tml

Money for homeless may be a lost cause again
 
The coalition that would seek HUD funding has not been organized, and that
may doom its chances to get a comprehensive application in on time.

By RYAN DAVIS

 St. Petersburg Times, published January 18, 2001
------------------------------------------------------------------------

LAND O'LAKES -- The federal homeless assistance money that Pasco County has
repeatedly failed to seek will probably slip away again this year, members
of the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County said after a meeting
Wednesday. 

"It's a race against the time clock," said Philip Kahal, a retired social
worker and the head of the coalition's application subcommittee.

At least some think it's a losing race.

The comprehensive application for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development homeless grant will likely be due in May. A date has not been
set yet, HUD spokeswoman Sharon Johnson said during the meeting at the Land
O'Lakes Senior Services Center.

The coalition, a collection of the county's social service agencies that
meets monthly, has started to shift its focus from advocacy to distributing
grant money, but it waited until Wednesday to hold its first subcommittee
meeting. 

"We weren't organized," said Sister Joan Foley, the founder of the
coalition. "The problem is getting everyone together."

The last round of HUD money, which accounts for nearly all of the agency's
funding targeting homelessness, was distributed last month.

Pasco was the most populous county in Florida not to get a penny. No Pasco
agency -- a non-profit or a branch of government -- even applied for the
money. 

The county's pro-rata share, which is based on population and demographics,
was $846,518. 

Kahal thinks the coalition can put together a proposal by May, he said.

The group will make a final decision next week about submitting an
application this year, Kahal said.

Foley and Joanne Huber, a social worker for the Pasco County School
District, said they expect another year to pass by before the group applies.

"I think our coalition needs to be more structured," Huber said.

Foley added that this is the furthest along the coalition has come in
exploring the grant.

The 15-year-old coalition is the only group that brings together
representatives from the county's homeless service agencies. Its leaders
claim 40 members, but it has long gone about its business in an informal
manner. 

It established its first permanent office last year.

To submit a successful application, the group needs to find matching funding
to demonstrate local support; detail a plan for getting homeless people to
shelters, then transition housing, then permanent quarters; and assess the
services most needed in Pasco County.

Developing a coordinated effort looms as the biggest challenge, Kahal said.

At least the beginnings of local assistance are already in place. The county
has set aside $125,000 in state money for this and the next two fiscal years
as potential match money, said Dianne Morris, the county's community
development manager.

The coalition also hopes to get public support, Kahal said. He suggested the
coalition develop a public relations arm to combat the growing belief that
the homeless don't want help.

"If you're talking about some of the men in the woods," Kahal said, "there's
a few of them out there that that's their lifestyle."

Members said that school of thought excludes people already in shelters and
those living temporarily with a friend or relative.

According to a fall 1999 count by the coalition, there are 2,188 homeless
people in Pasco County.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

 Copyright 2000 St. Petersburg Times


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