City wins $3.196 million in federal homeless aid

Portland received nearly $3.2 million in federal money for homeless relief, most of it in the form of subsidized housing, officials announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced its Continuum of Care grants, which provide permanent and transitional housing to homeless people as well as services including job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care.

The one homeless service not awarded funding in Portland was the city’s newest – Florence House, a center on Valley Street that houses up to 25 formerly homeless women and provides a short-term place to live for up to 40 more women. But the $7.9 million facility, christened last June, didn’t receive funding because it’s too new to be on the list of recurring funding sources, explained Jon Bradley, associate director at Preble Street Resource Center. Preble Street and Avesta Housing teamed up to build Florence House.

"Florence House isn’t in there because it’s new this year," Bradley said.

HUD’s Continuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local programs.

"It’s critical money, it funds most of the homeless activities that we do," said Bradley.

The list of programs renewed include:

• MaineStay, youth and young adult transitional housing – $307,099.

• Logan Place, efficiency apartments that target homeless people with 24-hour support on site – $304,266.

• Portland Collaborative, case work and outreach services at several shelters – $158.125.

• 22 Park Avenue, transitional housing for parenting teens, run by Youth Alternatives Ingraham – $126,936.

• Morrison Place, transitional housing and treatment for homeless adults with co-occurring disorders, specifically mental health and substance abuse issues – $82,356.

• MAPS/StepUp!, pregnant and parenting women housing – $71,355.

• Bell Street, transitional housing for families – $70,652.

Portland’s $3.196 million share included nearly $2 million for "shelter plus care" housing vouchers for people who meet HUD criteria – rent reimbursement to landlords similar to Section 8 subsidized housing, explained Portland Social Services Division Administrator Bob Duranleau.

HUD awarded more than $9.4 million in funding to keep 46 homeless assistance programs in Maine operating in the coming year, the agency announced.

"This funding is very important to the consumers that we help, this is the only pot of money that goes directly to the service providers, the shelters," Duranleau said.

"If we didn’t get it we’d be in tough shape," said Bradley.

In addition to HUD’s annual Continuum of Care grant, the agency allocated $1.5 billion in one-time money through its federal stimulus-funded Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program. This outlay included a two-year grant of $876,120 awarded in 2009 to the Portland Health and Human Services Department, Social Services Division, to help pay for salaries of housing counselors, who were hired to provide housing relocation and stabilization services, the city reported.