As winter approaches, four local homeless service providers have lost more than half a million dollars in federal and state funding.
Together, the Salvation Army of Greater Rochester, YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County, Volunteers of America – Rochester and Spiritus Christi directly serve 2,000 homeless adults and children.
“Homelessness continues to be a critical issue in our community,” said Angela Panzarella, CEO of the YWCA. Monroe County reported that just last year, it made more than 11,000 placements of families and individuals to local homeless shelters, a figure that was up 19 percent from the prior year. The YWCA provides shelter to more than 600 people each year—more than half of them children. “Without immediate financial support to offset the loss of STEHP funding, the YWCA and other providers may well need to reduce our emergency housing services to the most vulnerable members of our community,” Panzarella said.
STEHP funding refers to the Solutions to End Homelessness Program, which uses federal funds allocated from the Department of Housing and Urban Development combined with the New York State homeless assistance funds to help people obtain permanent housing and improve the quality of emergency shelters and drop-in centers.
The four Monroe County agencies will lose $550,000 in STEHP funding, officials said.
“Emergency shelter for local clients will be heavily impacted as more than half of the funding that the Salvation Army has received from the STEHP program in previous years has gone towards supporting this vulnerable population here across Monroe County,” said Major Douglas Hart, director of Monroe County Operations for the Salvation Army.” This funding loss will be especially impactful when temperatures drop to deadly depths during the winter months.”
The lack of money will force Spiritus Christi Prison Outreach to lay off staff at its programs for homeless ex-offenders.
“On any given night, there are more than 800 people—including children—who are homeless in Monroe County,” said Lynn Sullivan, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Upstate New York. “Without adequate funding, we cannot provide… support services, let alone the basic necessities of food and shelter, which will lead to people experiencing longer and multiple episodes of homelessness as well as lack of shelter for those in need.”=