After the Syracuse Housing Authority was forced to return $5.1 million in grants to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency will continue funding a local program. Syracuse.com reports that since the housing authority failed to spend the money, they had to send it back. This funding could have provided housing for 200 homeless people with disabilities, addictions, or mental illness between 2010 and 2015.
According to Syracuse.com, HUD approved a $680,000 grant for the Shelter Plus Care program in 2018. This program has been in place since 1994.
“We’re thrilled that the program will be saved,” Melissa Marrone, director of the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York, said in a statement to Syracuse.com. “We don’t want to make anyone experience homelessness again.”
Many Upstate residents may not understand the true scope of homelessness in New York. While 52% of home buyers cite finding the right property as the most difficult part of buying a home, there is a sharp divide between the state’s wealthier residents and the homeless population. In fact, according to state records, homelessness increased in New York, while the issue decreased by 11% nationwide.
This is why local communities have a strong role in combating homelessness.
With this new funding from HUD, the Syracuse Housing Authority can support 90 households per year, according to Syracuse.com. While they could have supported 285 with the funding they forfeited, the organization says that they did not get enough referrals from homeless shelters.
“We worked really hard to get SHA to manage their grants more effectively,” Marrone said in a previous statement to Syracuse.com. “We did this with HUD technical assistants and with the help of city and county government. After almost two years of working on this problem, HUD cut most of their funding.”
The organization now has an opportunity to renew this commitment with their funding, which is part of a series of $8.9 million grants for nonprofits around Central New York.