Agencies that fight homelessness in Chattanooga and Southeast Tennessee got good news last week: more than $2.6 million in renewed funding for 16 programs.
It's part of $18.6 million handed out in Tennessee and $1.5 billion nationwide, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"The evidence is clear that every dollar we spend on those programs that help find a stable home for our homeless neighbors not only saves money but quite literally saves lives," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in the release. "We know these programs work and we know these grants can mean the difference between homeless persons and families finding stable housing or living on our streets."
Clare Sawyer, executive director for the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, welcomed the news.
"You're almost guaranteed to get something, but you don't know what you're going to get. We actually got a little more than we expected," Sawyer said.
Jennifer Lantz, director of planning for the Homeless Coalition, said the funding comes under HUD's Continuum of Care program of competitive grants. The coalition helps evaluate programs and maintain data for the various agencies that apply for the HUD grants.
All the programs aim to get homeless people into permanent housing, whether by addressing behavioral health, transitioning from domestic violence shelters or substance abuse treatment centers or supplementing rent, Sawyer and Lantz said.
"We're really excited because they were all awarded at the amount we expected or more," Lantz said.
Added Sawyer, "It leverages a lot of money into the local economy," by hiring people who administer the programs as well as payments to landlords and service providers.
Lantz said a second round of HUD grants, this time for new rather than established programs, is expected to be announced within a couple of months.