The Syracuse Housing Authority has announced that it will seek an extension of the federal funding it received for homelessness prevention programs. This move was made in order to avoid forfeiting over $1 million that had been awarded, on top of another $5.1 million that has been given back to the grant lenders in the previous five years.
Problems with Shelter Plus Care grants have led the Housing Authority to give back almost 40% of its funding, and housing officials recently met with members of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to discuss the root of the issues.
HUD authorities have encouraged the housing authority to seek this extension, since the grant ends on Sept. 30, at which time $1.1 million of unspent money would have to be returned.
As a part of the extension proposal, Syracuse Housing Authority has proposed a corrective action plan, intended to improve the management of the Shelter Plus Care program.
Shelter Plus Care is a federally funded program, designed to provide permanent housing for homeless people in treatment for disabilities, mental illnesses, and substance abuse — a problem that is mounting in urgency with every passing year. According to Forbes, an estimated 1.5 million new housing units need to be built each year in order to accommodate population growth, which doesn’t even account for the millions of homeless who don’t currently have anywhere to live.
The housing authority has received grants totaling about $2.6 million a year for the past several years. Between 2010 and 2015, the program forfeited about $1 million a year because they had failed to spend it.
In May, HUD slashed next year’s funding for the program by $687,000, and has advised the housing authority to stop accepting new members until it can be determined how the program will continue with less funding.
Paul Driscoll, the city commissioner of neighborhood and business development, noted that SHA could attempt to recoup the funding, but only by going back to square one.
“We would have to get in line as a new customer, as opposed to a renewal, which is much easier to get,” said Driscoll.