Tulare prepares to expand homelessness services

(Rigo Moran)

Tulare allocates $4.8 million in second round of Encampment Resolution Funding, expands current outreach and helps fund permanent housing; portion goes to construction of permanent shelter

TULARE – With the help of a near $5 million grant from the state, the city of Tulare will be able to expand current efforts that help individuals experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.

At the Sept. 5 city council meeting, members of Tulare City Council approved the allocation of the second round of Encampment Resolution Funding Program (ERF-2-R). Presented by senior housing and grant specialist Alexis Costales, this grant funding is considered to be a rolling disbursement because it is hot on the heels of the city’s first ERF grant. The first grant was collected months ago in June and has been making progress ever since.

Council approved the specific allocation of all $4,785,086 to go to areas including street outreach, services coordination, systems support, rapid rehousing, interim sheltering, operating subsidies and administrative activities.

“Goals for a second application for ERF grant funds include an effort to scale services and add housing options for clients,” Costales said to council.

After approval from council, Costales said the city plans to implement all new ERF-2-R services by Nov. 30 of this year. Following the implementation and with the help of the new services, is a goal to facilitate an exit to emergency or permanent housing for an additional 25 people by the end of January 2024. Costales said that number would double the amount of people who have exited the program from the date it began.

“This would bring the total number of people to exit homelessness under the city’s ERF project to just under 60, nearly double the total achieved after just seven months of full operations,” Costales said.

He added that, as per a state mandate that follows the grant, the city must expend at least 50% of the entire grant award within 12 months from the date of executing. A standard agreement with state staff puts that date at Sept. 30 of next year.

“Cal ICH (California Interagency Council on Homelessness) requires a timely implementation of all services and obligation of funds to housing,” Costales said to council.

The city’s second round of funding through the ERF Program will help scale the project to help provide services to the other 100 individuals who are residing in the encampment. According to Mayor Terry Sayer, a large part of the reason Tulare was such a large recipient of round two, is because of the ongoing work the city has been doing to help those experiencing homelessness through ERF round one funding.

“If adopted this evening, staff may engage existing and new service providers to refine scopes of work, budgets and program guidelines as unnecessary,” Costales said to council.

Additionally, nearly 70% of the ERF-2-R funding is committed to interim and permanent housing. Almost $1.3 million has been allocated to the building of the city’s permanent emergency homeless shelter.

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