Lake County gets $200,000 grant to fight homelessness
The fight against homelessness in Lake County has received a big financial boost from a national organization working to eradicate the problem.
The Built for Zero program recently awarded the county a $200,000 grant to combat homeless locally. Coordinated by a New York-based group called Community Solutions, the program helps municipalities and counties develop data about homelessness, optimize housing resources and implement strategies.
The Lake County Board voted Tuesday to spend the grant funds. The Lake County Coalition for the Homeless, a consortium staffed by employees of the county's community development division, is the direct grant recipient.
"This grant will be instrumental in their efforts to end homelessness in Lake County," said county board member Steve Carlson, a Gurnee-area Republican who leads the health and community services committee.
The grant targets people who are chronically homeless. Anyone who has a disability and is homeless for one continuous year or who experiences four episodes of homelessness that add up to 12 months over the last three years is considered chronically homeless.
"Chronic homelessness is often the most difficult form of homelessness to address," said county board member Adam Didech, a Buffalo Grove Democrat on the health and community services committee.
Thirty-eight chronically homeless people are on the county's wait-list for housing, said Jodi Gingiss, the county's community development administrator. That's down from 52 in January but up from 35 in May.
Lake County officials hope to find secure housing for everyone on the list, as well as anyone else who gets on the list this year, by awarding housing vouchers or finding space via other housing programs and public service agencies.
The grant will cover the estimated $58,000 salary of an intern who will manage the county's list of people seeking housing and work with other agencies.
The funding also will help clients cover debts from utilities and rent, and pay security deposits and first month's rent, among other expenses. Those expenses prevent some people from getting housing, officials said.
The Catholic Charities USA nonprofit group will help administer those rent, security and utility deposits, Gingiss said.
The grant doesn't require any matching funds from the county. That's a plus for county board member Dick Barr, who sits on the health and community services committee.
And with wintry weather on the way, the timing of the grant is fortuitous, said Barr, a Round Lake Beach Republican.