IV C. HOMELESSNESS
Estimated federal funds to be expended for Homeless Activities over the next five years: $400,000
1. Strategies for Addressing the Needs of Person who are Homeless
a. Homeless Prevention
Strategy: Assist low-income households in maintaining and retaining their existing housing.Objectives:
In 1998, HUD allowed housing authorities to discontinue the use of federal preferences and to adopt local preferences in order to better serve the specific needs of the community. The ICHA addressed the needs of Iowa City’s homeless by enacting a local preference that allowed homeless families to be served before any others applying for rental assistance. The ICHA designated DVIP, EHP, HACAP and other agencies to certify the homeless status of the family. Once this is done, the ICHA gives those applicants priority and their wait for rental assistance is substantially reduced.
While programs do exist to provide food and other care to those in crisis, relatively few programs exist that provide financial assistance to maintain a families and individuals in their current homes. Yet, the short-term cost of such assistance is much lower than the long-term expense to taxpayers of supporting people in emergency facilities. HACAP operates two programs providing limited assistance with utility payments for income-qualifying households. Another program, operated by Greater Iowa City Housing Fellowship is available to help lower income households with rent and utility deposits. The Salvation Army provides assistance with water payments up to $50 for a small handful of individuals/families. The State of Iowa operates a fund that allocates $500 a year to income eligible families with children to keep them in their homes. In addition, there are private groups that provide small amounts of emergency assistance. Access to these programs is extremely limited and often for one-time assistance only.
Many low-income persons find it difficult to make monthly rent and mortgage payments and pay the necessary expenses of maintaining or rehabilitating their homes. Assistance in maintaining these homes guarantees their long-term inclusion in the stock of affordable housing.
Often times persons faced with trouble just need someone to talk with to prevent a problem from becoming a crisis. Representatives of the Emergency Housing Project have suggested that a "buddy system" or mentor program could prevent some individual's problems from escalating to a level that would require emergency services and shelter.
b. Reaching out to Persons who are Homeless and Assessing Individual Needs
Strategy: Advocate human services coordination.Objectives:
Strategy: Increase understanding of issues surrounding rural homelessness.
Objective: Conduct a study of rural homelessness coordinated with JCCOG to determine the level of unmet need, formulate outreach efforts and support requests for additional funding.
c. Addressing Shelter Needs of Persons who are Homeless
1. Emergency Shelter Needs
Strategy: Emergency Shelter Rehab/Expansion.
Strategy: Support plans for improving day shelter opportunities.
2. Transitional Housing Needs
Strategy: Improve transitional housing programs for families.
Strategy: Provide transitional housing for single individuals.
Strategy: Provide special needs transitional housing.
d. Helping Homeless Persons Make the Transition to Independent Living
Please see Transitional Housing Needs above and the Non-Housing Community Development Plan (Section IV.E.).
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