It Takes a Community

HUD Rescinds Homeless Services Dollars in Palatine

At the beginning of May, HUD released its final funding decisions for 2016 regarding projects to serve and house the homeless population. This funding meets the federal obligation to take care of our most fragile populations and by outsourcing services to non-profits. HUD does not run the programs – they fund the programs that serve the people.

Since 1999, JOURNEYS has only applied for one Federal Grant through this process, in order to support the clinical services at the HOPE Center. This funding, in the amount of $187,000 annually, provides the resources for JOURNEYS to serve up to 1100 people annually with free case management counseling and other supports to the chronically homeless, situationally homeless, and the unstably housed populations in the north and northwest suburbs of Cook County.

These funding decisions are not made based on the strength of the individual agency, or if the agency meets the needs of the community effectively and efficiently, but rather on whether local projects meet the goals of the regional Continuum of Care grant. The regional Continuum of Care for our area is The Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County. The Alliance’s collaborative grant application is scored based on HUD’s funding focus at the moment.

This year, because of a lower ranking for the Alliance’s Continuum of Care Collaborative Competitive Grant, 6 projects, including JOURNEYS’ funding, were simply wiped off the map. When we asked how this could be as we were individually ranked higher than some agencies that still received funding, we were told that HUD no longer will be funding supportive services focused on ending homelessness but rather will only be funding housing grants.

This loss of funding represents 41% of our HOPE Center Budget, 21% of our overall agency budget, and provides, on average, over 20,000 services to almost 1100 individuals annually.

In return for that funding, JOURNEYS had provided all of its service statistics to the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to assist HUD in gathering the data necessary to prove their success in ending homelessness. Also, in 1999 as part of the original grant, JOURNEYS committed to HUD that it would operate the building that houses the HOPE Center and other program administration for 20 years because the original grant included one-time acquisition and rehabilitation dollars. However, we recently learned that this is a one-sided commitment; the agency must serve and operate the building for 20 years until October2019, but HUD is not required to fund it for the same period of time.

So what happens if JOURNEYS cannot continue to afford to operate the HOPE Center? We have been told that HUD can take complete ownership of the building even though their funding only paid for a portion of the purchase.

Our agency name “JOURNEYS | The Road Home” was picked to represent what we do for those in need within our communities. These are our neighbors and our friends. We walk with them on their “journeys”, by providing services, interventions, and needed assistance, on each person’s “road” to finding a stable home. With the removal of their promise of support, HUD tells us that that the only solution to ending homelessness that they are willing to financially endorse is to simply put someone in a home with little concern as to all of the long-term care and support it requires to obtain and maintain stable housing.

Getting people off the street is a good thing! However, getting them off the street so that HUD can claim they succeeded in ending homelessness, without funding the services that enabled them to get off the street in the first place and providing adequate long-term support services is short sighted. What will happen in 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years if we only house first, but do not provide the long-term supports? The logical conclusion is that we will see many people re-enter homelessness.

So, will JOURNEYS have to drastically reduce its vital services without replacing this $187,000 annually? The answer is yes. Can JOURNEYS find $187,000 to replace this vital funding stream to assure that we can keep stabilizing lives and strengthening the north and northwest suburbs of Cook County? We hope so. We have until October 2016 to find that answer.

Imagine what our area will look like if we do not see the community support necessary to financially support the HOPE Center:

  1. JOURNEYS will not offer any supportive services…only emergency shelter and affordable housing
  2. 40-60 people each day will not have a meaningful place that provides free counseling and case management from 7:30AM – 4PM Monday through Friday in the north and northwest suburbs of Cook County targeted at the homeless and at risk populations
  3. Emergency room costs will go up at Northwest Community Hospital, Lutheran General, and the Amita health systems
  4. Neighborhood police efforts will increase
  5. Loitering in train stations, public libraries and local businesses will increase
  6. Local panhandling will increase
  7. Crimes of survival will increase such as shoplifting and sleeping outside

What can you do to make sure this does not happen? Send us your financial support at any level and indicate that it is for the HUD Funding Crisis. Ask your friends to do the same. Every bit helps. Any amount will help us make sure that we do not leave our neighbors without services come October 2016! We have four months to raise $187,000 – can you help?