STEPS nets rehousing grant
Published 10:34 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019
STEPS Inc. received a grant of $13,590 from the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide rapid rehousing for those who are homeless or are in temporary shelters.
Governor Ralph Northam cited in an announcement Wednesday, April 17, that the grant STEPS received from the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF) is one of 30 other grants given to area organizations totaling $2.2 million meant to reduce homelessness in the Commonwealth.
STEPS, a nonprofit with several programs available for job training, housing services and early childhood education, serves Lunenburg county.
The grants, according to the announcement from the Governor’s office, will support 16 rapid re-housing projects, 12 existing permanent supportive housing projects, and the pre-development of two permanent supportive housing projects throughout Virginia.
“Since 2010, overall homelessness in Virginia has decreased 34 percent, and homelessness among families has decreased 44 percent,” the announcement cited. “Homelessness among veterans has decreased 48 percent since 2011, and in 2015, Virginia became the first state in the country to functionally end veteran homelessness. These successes have been driven by the leadership of the Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness, collaboration between state and local partners, and the allocation of funding to support a systematic approach at the community level. Resources to address homelessness in Virginia are administered through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Virginia Homeless Solutions Program, which is a combination of state and federal funds.”
Amy Beatson, director of planning and resource development with STEPS, said the grant will primarily be used for STEPS’ rapid rehousing program. Individuals and family who are living in temporary shelters, such as hotels, homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters, would automatically qualify to be rehoused through the program.
“We can take families who have been sheltered and immediately place them in housing by paying their first month’s rent, deposits and connections of electricity, water, whatever it takes for them to get established in a stable housing unit,” Beatson said, who submitted the request for funding by the state. “We hope to expand that service with this additional funding.”
Beatson said STEPS can also use the grant funding to assist individuals and families who present as homeless. This can apply to people who live in vehicles, a tent, on the street, or a legally condemned dwelling.
As an example, Beatson said if an individual lives in a car and has the opportunity to move into an apartment but cannot afford the cost, has employment, and the landlord is willing to collaborate, STEPS can assist the individual in being housed.
Beatson said STEPS is expected to get the funding from VHTF as soon as possible and have it available through the next year.
According to the announcement from the Governor’s Office, at least 80 percent of the funds allocated to VHTF must be used to provide loans that reduce the costs of affordable rental housing and homeownership. Up to 20 percent may be used for grants to reduce homelessness, the announcement cited.
“Eligible activities of the Homelessness Reduction Grant pool include rapid re-housing, support services for permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, and pre-development of permanent supportive housing projects for chronically homeless individuals or families,” the announcement cited.
To learn more about the rapid rehousing program from STEPS, visit steps-inc.org or call (434) 315 5909.