News and Tribune

February 2, 2014

Funding for homeless programs on New Albany council agenda

$75K would be distributed to area organizations

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany City Council is taking the lead among local governments when it comes to funding homeless initiatives.

The council will consider appropriating $25,000 each to Haven House Services Inc., The Salvation Army and St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities when it convenes at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Last month, the council approved the Haven House appropriation on initial ballots, and the final reading will be taken this evening.

Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti is sponsoring a $50,000 appropriation to be divided among St. Elizabeth and The Salvation Army’s New Albany branch. The appropriation — which would come from the Riverboat Fund — is slated for initial readings tonight.

St. Elizabeth, located off Market Street in New Albany, provides transitional housing for homeless single mothers and their children, as well as pregnancy and maternity counseling.

The Salvation Army has 16 residential units where homeless families are allowed to live for up to two years. The Salvation Army requires the families take self-sufficiency classes so that they can break the cycle of homelessness, not just have a place to stay for 24 months, Maj. Stephen Kiger of The Salvation Army said Friday.

“They actually work on a lot of the issues that underline their homelessness,” Kiger said. “We have a lot of supportive kinds of things that we do that make it a very successful program.”

But federal funding for transitional housing programs at St. Elizabeth and The Salvation Army have been cut in recent years, and Benedetti said the city can help.

Moving forward, it will be incumbent upon those organizations to form their own plans to bridge the funding gaps left behind by the cuts in federal money, she continued.

“I just felt like we could offer an olive branch to help them take care of things this year until they get funding mechanisms in place” to makeup the difference in the cuts, Benedetti said Friday.

Homelessness has been a topic of council discussion since the body voted to tighten panhandling restrictions last month.

Kiger said if New Albany approves $25,000 for The Salvation Army’s transitional housing program, it would be the first public funding the organization has received from local governments.

Haven House also receives no public funding for its Williams Emergency Shelter in Jeffersonville. However, the organization has racked up about $53,000 in sewer liens.

The council specified last month that its $25,000 appropriation would specifically be used for operational expenses and not for sewer payments.

Though the measure was approved 8-0 on second reading, Councilman Dan Coffey said he would prefer the money be released in increments based on performance.

“I think because there’s public money being involved here, we should require some kind of financial accountability,” he said Friday.

Haven House should also work with more organizations to break the cycle of homelessness instead of just providing a shelter, Coffey continued.

The meeting will be held in the third-floor Assembly Room of the City-County Building.