San Bernardino County will receive about $2.3 million in federal funding to keep homeless assistance programs operating.
Earlier this week Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary, awarded a total of $1.41 billion to keep nearly 7,000 local homeless assistance programs throughout the country and territories operating in 2011. Of that amount, California received roughly $227 million to be split among 801 homeless assistance programs in the state, with San Bernardino County receiving $2.3 million.
“There is a tremendous need on our streets and in our shelters among those experiencing both long-term homelessness as well as families confronting a sudden economic crisis,” Donovan said. “These grants are the life blood for thousands of local housing and service programs that are doing the heavy lifting to meet President Obama’s goal of ending homelessness.”
The grants were part of President Barack Obama’s “Opening Doors” strategy, which is the nation’s first comprehensive plan to prevent and end homelessness. The plan lays out a path toward ending veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015 and ending homelessness among children, family and youth by 2020.
According to the HUD’s 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, on a single night in January 2009 there were about 643,000 homeless people nationwide. During the entire year there were about 1.6 million people using emergency or transitional housing programs, according to the report. California had a little more than 133,000 homeless people during a single night in 2009 – a decrease of about 24,000 people from 2008 – and San Bernardino County had a little more than 2,000 homeless people also during a single night in 2009 – a decrease of almost 5,000 people from 2008.
After Donovan announced the awards, California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer praised HUD for providing that assistance.
“Since the recession began, California and the rest of the nation have seen an increase in homelessness,” she said in a press release. “These federal investments will help us combat the epidemic of homelessness so people can get back on their feet and off the streets.”
The awards also were announced about one week before thousands of volunteers in almost every city and county conduct a federally mandated biannual one-night count of homeless persons and families for the 2010 AHAR report. As of early January, The Press-Enterprise reported that San Bernardino County was seeking at least 1,000 volunteers to help with the count to look for homeless in the desert and mountain areas.
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