FUNDING A PLAN
The city has thrown its financial support behind developing the plan, as the city council agreed to pay $15,000 to hire the independent consultant. With the redevelopment commission’s dedication, the total amount is $30,000.
“We think that having an outside consultant do the plan will hopefully help to calm some of the tensions around service issues and it’s not going to be driven by one specific person or agency,” Keeney said.
The idea is to allow the consultant to gather input from various groups and agencies around the city and offer a plan that would allow all of the agencies to coordinate the various efforts toward a common goal.
“I absolutely believe the pieces are in our community,” Keeney said. “What I’m really hopeful [for] is the plan ties those pieces together so we’re not just talking about what to do with the people that are homeless today, but how to prevent the people from being homeless when they lose their paycheck next week.”
Several council members asked if there would be other funding available for developing or initiating the plan.
Keeney said that funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, which funds the majority of homeless initiatives has been cut recently.
Saegesser, who specializes in grant writing at River Hills, agreed that support money from state and federal agencies has largely dried up.
“We’re looking at this to try and tap into some resources that we have here locally,” she said. “I don’t anticipate there being a lot of, unless the climate changes, state and federal grants that we could access.”
Despite the drop in funding from HUD, LifeSpring was able to secure a matching grant that could take nearly 30 homeless individuals off the street.
Keeney said LifeSpring was able to secure a $225,000 one-year grant that required a 25 percent match.
The grant helps fund a permanent supportive housing program at apartments scattered throughout Southern Indiana, some owned by LifeSpring and others that are sublet by the mental health services provider.
“Folks can come and stay with us as long as they need to achieve stability,” Keeney said.
But there are requirements for the program. The individuals looking for a residence have to be homeless, they have to have a documented disability — physical, mental or a chronic condition — and the individuals cannot be convicted sex offenders.
The intent of the program is to get those living on the street, and that meet the requirements, into housing and available for regular health treatment.
“We’re hoping by taking a holistic approach, we’ll be able to break that cycle [of homelessness],” Keeney said.
She said LifeSpring is working with Haven House and Jesus Cares at Exit 0 to identify those who qualify and to get them to fill out applications for the program. The program is expected to begin phasing people into apartments starting Sept. 1.