Tulare County HHSA, Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance pool state funding to create $1.7 million grant program for cities, service providers
By Reggie Ellis
TULARE COUNTY – Bringing resources under one roof is key to reducing homelessness. The statement was the overarching theme to the Pathway Home report presented to Tulare County agencies by consultant Home Base last November and a recent action by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to share funding to avoid wasting resources.
At its Feb. 11 meeting, the supervisors redirected over $800,000 in state funding for the homeless to the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance. The decision allows the Alliance to apply for $2.1 million in funding overall, including $1.2 million it is expected to receive as the continuum of care, the agency servicing the two-county area. Chaz Felix, homeless program coordinator for the County’s Health and Human Services Agency, said Tulare County will receive about 80% of that money, or about $960,000. The funding is part of $650 million being offered to large cities, counties and continua of care through the state’s Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention program (HHAP). The decision needed to be made in order for the Alliance to apply for $2.1 million by the Feb. 15 deadline.
Felix said the Pathway Home report provided a plan to systematically address homelessness in the county and this decision was the first step toward pooling the county’s limited resources for an area that has one of the most dire homeless situations in the nation. Felix said the Alliance is the best agency to coordinate homeless efforts because it is at the core of what they do and they have more than 10 years of experience doing it.
“We don’t want to run into a scenario where we are both independently funding the same activities by different organizations, which would be a tremendous waste of resources,” Felix said. “This avenue is the best way to maximize that opportunity.”
The state funding should be allocated to the Alliance within 60 days. Once it becomes available, Felix said the Alliance will hold a competitive grant application in April and award funds this summer. The Alliance will fund projects that address the most pressing homeless needs throughout the county. Projects must be based on proven practices or specifically targeting homeless youth. Cities and homeless service providers will be eligible to apply for funding.
Felix said the decision did not set a precedence as HHSA and the Alliance have pooled their funding for homelessness before. Just last year, the two entities funded two first-of-its-kind projects in the Eden House in Visalia and Porterville Welcome Center. City staff worked with school district and Turning Point to fund this opportunity.
The priorities outlined by HHSA and the Alliance for Tulare County’s $1.7 million include allowances for: rental assistance, landlord incentives, operating expenses for shelters, outreach, homeless support, innovative housing solutions like converting hotels, funding to identify and create shelters.
Supervisor Amy Shuklian asked if the money can be used for capital projects, such as building a low barrier shelter, something that is severely lacking in Tulare County.
“Yes, those are outlined in the program,” Felix said.