The federal government will funnel more than $20 million this year into housing programs for the homeless in Sacramento County.
The grant, awarded annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will fund 31 community programs that shelter homeless individuals and families.
Most of the programs are ongoing, and this year’s grant will help maintain shelter for the formerly homeless people enrolled in them, said Ryan Loofbourrow, executive director of Sacramento Steps Forward, which administers the federal dollars. They include permanent housing apartments, housing with supportive services for people with addictions and other problems, and “rapid rehousing” programs that seek to quickly move people from shelters to rental units, he said.
Among the agencies to be funded are Sacramento Self Help Housing, Cottage Housing, Lutheran Social Services, Mercy Housing, and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.
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HUD this year awarded a record $2 billion across the country to 7,300 local programs, the agency said. Programs in California will receive more than $382 million in federal money.
Four new local projects have been funded, including a housing program operated by Transforming Lives, Cultivating Success and Wind Youth Services, said Sacramento Steps Forward deputy director Michele Watts. The program, called Possibilities, will fund housing for homeless people 18 to 24 years old, Watts said.
“We do have housing programs for youth, but it’s just not enough,” she said.
Roughly 300 people ages 18 to 24 are homeless in Sacramento at any given time, said Erin Johansen, executive director of TLCS. Many are foster youths who have “aged out” of the system, she said.
The federal dollars will pay for 15 beds at a facility where young people will receive transitional housing and intensive counseling and other services before graduating to a more permanent living situation, she said.
“If we can intervene early and give them the kind of support they are not getting, they’ll have many more options in life,” Johansen said.
Sacramento’s $20.2 million federal award is about $700,000 more than it received last year, Loofbourrow said. He said some of the money will fund housing programs for people participating in the city’s Whole Person Care initiative, which is aimed at connecting chronically homeless people to treatment and permanent shelter.
A recent census counted 3,665 people living without permanent shelter in Sacramento County, an increase of about 30 percent since 2015.
The annual federal funding is a key component of helping people off of the streets, Loofbourrow said. “This funding stream is critical in responding to a growing homeless population in Sacramento and on the entire West Coast.”
But Sacramento County is hamstrung, he said, by a lack of affordable housing stock.
“Our challenge is just the lack of availability of apartments,” he said. “It’s a huge problem.”