Originally created 01/26/00

Money for homeless not sought



Augusta's homeless might have missed out on needed funding last year because local agencies failed to apply for it.

The Continuum of Care competition, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant program, provides thousands of dollars annually to metropolitan areas in Georgia with homeless problems.

In 1998, three local agencies -- the Augusta Task Force for the Homeless, Goodwill Industries and Hope House for Women -- received $695,493 to pay for services to better manage the area's homeless population.

Unlike the 26 Georgia agencies that applied and received their cities' shares of the $12.1 million distributed in 1999, however, Augusta was not in the running.

"Some agencies just did not know," said Sharon Caldwell, executive director of the Augusta Task Force for the Homeless. The task force is Augusta's coordinator for the grants and received a three-year grant in 1998 for $339,124. Ms. Caldwell said there was a communication breakdown between HUD and the task force.

"Now the task force, in all honesty, we did not know that it was the kind of thing that you apply for every year," she said.

HUD representatives from Atlanta met with local agency leaders this month to make certain there are applicants for fiscal 2000.

The agencies that received three-year grants in Augusta could not reapply in 1999, but there are dozens of churches, community programs and shelters in the area that should have, said Linda Allen, spokeswoman for HUD in Atlanta.

Not all agencies that provide services to Augusta's homeless were in the dark.

"There is so much paperwork associated with this thing that a lot of agencies don't want to be bothered with it," said Keven Mack, director of the city's Community Development Office. "The agencies brought this up. They said they don't want to do this big to-do and still not get funded. That is one of the issues with the smaller agencies."

In 1998, six local agencies applied, and three were funded.

Ideal grant applicants, Ms. Caldwell said, include builders and real estate agencies that can come with creative ways to supply low-income or transitional housing for homeless people.

Reach Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851.

Meeting

A public meeting about the HUD grant will be 9 a.m. Friday at the Salvation Army building at 1384 Greene St. For information, call (706) 774-1059.