Manatee getting $635,000 in federal stimulus to prevent homelessness

October 6, 2009 

More than $635,000 in federal stimulus dollars will help Manatee families struggling to keep a roof over their heads, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced on Tuesday.

In all, the state is receiving almost $65.3 million in Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing grants.

The new housing assistance grants will be available to individuals and families who are homeless or about to lose their housing because of eviction or foreclosure. There is an income eligibility requirement, with housing aid restricted to households with incomes below 50 percent of an area’s median income. Families can apply for the housing assistance grants at designated local agencies.

Renters owing back rent and facing eviction can receive money for rent and utilities to remain in their rental units. Families who already are homeless can get money for rent, utility and security deposits in order to get into rental housing. The grant money cannot be used for home mortgage payments.

“In a state with one of the highest home foreclosure rates and one of the highest unemployment rates, families will get the critical and immediate help they need to keep their families safe and together in a home,” Secretary George Sheldon of the Florida Department of Children and Families said on Tuesday. “The more we can prevent families from becoming homeless, or get homeless families into rental housing, the better chance they have to regain economic self-sufficiency and rebuild their lives.”

The $65 million is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is being allocated to Florida by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than $43.8 million in housing assistance went directly to 31 cities and counties, including $635,485 to Manatee County and $581,819 to Sarasota County. Another $12.6 million is being distributed by the Department of Children and Families to remaining counties based upon need, with an additional $8.6 million reserved to prevent homelessness in 2010.

Presently, 57,687 people are identified as homeless in Florida. However, the count is considered incomplete, as many individuals and families find refuge living with family, friends or in other temporary arrangements.

No specific amount of housing assistance is allocated per family or individual. Instead, the assistance is based on need and determined on a case by case basis. There is a limit of 18 months of housing assistance under this grant.

For Florida’s Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Direct Grants, go to: http://wwwdev/homelessness/docs/HomelessPreventionRapidRe_housingDirectGrants.pdf

For Florida’s Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Grants Distributed by the Department of Children and Families, go to: http://wwwdev/homelessness/docs/GranteesFundedThroughFlorida.pdf

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