Berkeley Receives $1.3 Million in Federal Homelessness Prevention Funds

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday July 10, 2009 - 01:06:00 PM

Berkeley was awarded $1.3 million in federal homelessness prevention funds Thursday under President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

The news came a day after Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced the results of a new study which showed a 48 percent drop in chronic homelessness in the city over the last six years.  

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan allocated a total of $1.2 billion to more than 400 communities nationwide Thursday as part of the agency’s new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) funded by the Recovery Act. 

Alameda County was awarded $802,915; Oakland was awarded $3.4 million; and Alameda received $552,208 under HPRP. 

The total amount awarded to Alameda County jurisdictions was $6.8 million. 

  These new awards represent about a nine-fold increase from what any jurisdiction typically receives under the department’s formula allocation, said HUD Regional Coordinator Eduardo Cabrera. 

Cabrera said the funds would be used to prevent homelessness and to swiftly re-house families that are already homeless. 

The program helps individuals and families who have met with sudden financial crisis which could lead to homelessness by providing them with short-term (up to three months) and medium-term (up to 18 months) rental assistance and services. 

It will also provide security deposits, utility deposits, utility payments, moving-cost assistance and hotel vouchers. 

“This is money that will not only spare families the hardships of homelessness, but will save taxpayers significant money in the long run,” Donovan said in a statement. “Often times, a little bit of financial assistance can make all the difference between a stable home and being forced to live in a shelter or on the streets.”  

HPRP grants are not intended to provide long-term support or help homeowners facing eviction with mortgage assistance. 

Cabrera said in order for these funds to be released, each jurisdiction had to submit a plan by December.  

The Recovery Act includes $13.61 billion for projects and programs overseen by HUD, of which nearly 75 percent was allocated to state and local recipients eight days after President Obama signed it into law. The HPRP funding was included in the 75 percent allocated at that time. Because HUD has approved the grant recipients’ spending plans now, the agency is officially making the money available for spending. 

The remaining 25 percent of HUD Recovery Act funds will be awarded through a competitive process. 

Bates’ Chief of Staff Julie Sinai said that Alameda County’s EveryOne Home program would be coordinating with six resource centers in the county, including Berkeley, to provide rent support, case management and help with down payments. 

The Berkeley center will help homeless populations from Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville and Piedmont. A request for proposals is currently being developed, Sinai said, in order to find a non-profit organization to operate the center. 

For more information on the HPRP, see www.hudhre.info/HPRP.