The City of Santa Monica will be receiving $550,000 from the Federal stimulus package that can be used to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless and help those who are homeless be quickly re-housed and stabilized. The City is currently working on developing a program to use these funds.Part of the program development process has been obtaining input from the City’s various Board and Commissions’ from the community, and from web-based surveys. At the April 27 City of Santa Monica Social Services Commission meeting, Danielle Noble, a City Sr. Administrative Analyst for Homeless Services, described the different options and federal requirements for using the funding. She explained that only Santa Monica residents who make no more than $27,750/year for a one-person household or $39,650 for a four-person household would be eligible. They also must not have the financial resources and support networks needed to obtain immediate housing or remain in existing housing and have no other housing options. Eligible assistance according to Noble could be financial assistance for short and medium term rental assistance, security deposits, utility payments, moving costs, and motel vouchers. Other services could include housing relocation and stabilization services which includes case management, data collection and evaluation, and administrative costs. Preliminary assessment results for Santa Monica residents show the greatest need for short-term financial assistance and targeted case management.Santa Monica would also have the option of the using the money to partner with Los Angles County or use existing Santa Monica resources to help those who qualify.The Commission also heard from members of the community on the issue. Board members from Upward Bound House whose mission is to eliminate homelessness among families with children emphasized the need to couple any funding with case management. Board member Kristina Andresen pointed out that “America is experiencing a Tsunami of homeless children.” She also noted that organizations on the Westside that assist homeless children have seen a tremendous increase in demand. “Upward Bound House has reported a 40 percent increase.”Upward Bound House Board of Director President, Booker Pearson, emphasized that it would make more sense to use the stimulus funding for families with children because society in the long term would reap the greatest rewards for doing this. He noted that homeless children have more emotional disturbances, have lower high school graduation rates, repeat grades more often, tend to require more emergency hospitalization, and “have a significantly higher probability to become incarcerated” or be on parole or probation.The Commission decided to recommend that the funding be used for eligible families with dependent children, that sustained intensive case management be part of the funding, and that the funding should be used for direct financial assistance such as housing relocation and stabilization.The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed plan from May 1-12. The City Council will review the proposal on May 12 and the City will forward the proposal to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department on May 18 for their approval. HUD will award the funds on July 2 and the program will begin in the Fall of 2009.
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