$1.6 Million Federal Grant Given to Support the Homeless

( [email protected] ) Feb 12, 2004 02:39 PM EST

According to the Washington Post, Anne Arundel County has received a $1.6 million federal grant to help fight homelessness.

The money will be used for more than 30 families to provide them with rental assistance, emergency shelters, and transitional housing. Part of the fund will be used to set up various services for the homeless such as job training, drug and alcohol abuse counseling and mental health services, that will help prevent homelessness.

Nearly $1 million will go to such families who are unable to pay rent and they will receive $200 to $600 a month based on need, officials said.

In addition, $470,000 would help Sarah's House at Fort Meade continue to provide temporary housing for homeless families, about $130,000 would go to Annapolis Area Ministries to continue its transitional housing program, and another $130,000 would fund a state program that provides housing and assistance to homeless people with mental illnesses who are being released from jail.

The grant is the largest ever that the county has received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and more than double what it received in 1997.

A recent county survey found that there are an estimated 450 homeless men, women and children living in shelters or on the streets, mostly because they couldn’t pay the rent as the average rental rate of apartments increased 3.4 percent after the cost of living increased last year. County Executive Janet S. Owens feels the survey calls for the need of special attention

"This is a population that deserves scrutiny and special attention because many of these people simply need a second chance," said Owens. "While some of these individuals have problems requiring long-term care, most individuals -- when provided with the right services and a decent place to live -- can be helped back onto their feet to become active, fully participating members of our society."

The Washington Post states that in 2003, the average cost of a single-family detached home was $344,000, up from $324,000 the year before, according to the report. The prices of attached homes increased to $208,000 last year, up from $177,000 the year before. And during that time, the average rental rate of apartments and houses in the county jumped 3.4 percent to $1,190 last year.