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Following the money: 4 ways communities are using HPRP funds
January 21, 2010
$1.5 billion in Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing (HPRP) dollars are finding their way into struggling communities and we're following them across the country through our interactive HPRP media map. Here are a few trends that are beginning to emerge:
Direct Impact: Put simply, HPRP is having a significant impact on people who are on the verge of homelessness: 65 in Shelby County, NC, 150 in Osceola County, FL, 372 in Mesa, AZ, and 5,200 in Tennessee to name a few.
New Population: Media coverage has shown that in particular, HPRP funds are helping families hit hard by the recession. Many never dreamed they'd be homeless, but because of extraordinary circumstances - a death in the family in Dallas, job loss in Phoenix - some have found themselves facing eviction or searching for space in a family shelter. HPRP funds are flexible: they can be used to help keep families in their homes by assisting with rent and keeping the heat on or they can be used to help families move by covering down payments and moving expenses.
Because so much hinges on housing - a parent keeping her job, a teenager staying in school - HPRP has been crucial for recession-struck families.
Systems Change: Although HPRP was designed specifically to deal with the recession, we hope it's part of a permanent paradigm shift from temporary fixes to long-term solutions. Currently, HPRP is causing systematic changes in homelessnss services in certain communities. For example, Kevin Finn, executive director of Cincinnati's Continuum of Care, says, “The fact that we have this money allows us to take a whole new approach.” Instead of shelter, they're focusing on prevention.
In Charlotte, $2 million in HPRP dollars has allowed the city to make a groundbreaking shift in the way it provides services. Not only are providers moving toward a Housing First approach, they're emphasizing other services like counseling and job skills training as well.
Incredible demand: It's becoming increasingly clear that more federal funding for the program is neccessary. Hundreds of people lined up outside the Salt Lake Community Action Program on the day the funds became available. Even as funds were allocated, demand for assistance increased in places like Anoka County, MN and across the country.
To help meet the incredible demand, we're hoping another $1 billion in federal HPRP funds this year.
(Big thanks to fellow intern Grace Stubee for her help with this post!)
How is your community using HPRP? Share your experience through the Alliance Storybank.