by Emerald Staff
The federal government is releasing money to get people experiencing homelessness into stable housing through its coronavirus relief spending, and although the figure is substantial, it’s likely not enough to house all those who need it. According to a report released from Third Door Coalition last May, Seattle needs to build 6,500 units of housing over the next five years to adequately house its homeless population, at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion.
In an online press conference Friday, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge discussed the allocation of nearly $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds available from HUD to help state and local governments create affordable housing and services. According to a press release from HUD, the supplemental funding program, known as HOME-ARP, is partnering with 651 grantees across the country to address the homeless crisis.
“One of the most profound challenges that we face on the West coast is one of homelessness,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan during the press conference. “We are seeing prosperity grow in some places, but more and more people displaced.”
Seattle will spend almost triple the amount than what was spent when Durkan assumed office, she said. According to data from HUD, Seattle and King County will be awarded over $26 million in supplemental funding from the HOME-ARP program.
“In Seattle, recently we have taken some important steps, capitalizing on the downturn in the real estate market to add more affordable housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness,” Durkan said in a press release from HUD. “For our longer-term recovery, we have the opportunity with the American Rescue Plan and HOME funds to scale up innovative investments to shelter and house even more, more quickly than ever before.”
The federal funding will be used to move people from the street to short-term shelter in hotels, Durkan said during the press conference.
“We want to move all of this together so we can build synergies to move as many people as we can over this short period of time from the street into long-term housing,” Durkan said.
President Joseph Biden has taken the position that America should have universal housing vouchers, said Fudge. “The problem is we don’t have enough places for people to live.”
In addition, the U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday the distribution of an additional $800 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief – Homeless Children and Youth program (ARP-HCY). In a press release from the Department of Education, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said, “This past year has been so difficult for every student, parent and educator across the country — but what students experiencing homelessness have gone through is unthinkable. The first thing we told people during this pandemic was to ‘stay home.’ But so many students don’t have a safe place to call home, access to internet, devices, or critical services that students have relied on to learn during this pandemic.”
“We fought hard to make sure the American Rescue Plan includes dedicated funding for students experiencing homelessness,” Murray said in the press release. “And that the Department of Education is acting quickly to get these resources to our communities. I’ll keep fighting to make sure students experiencing homelessness not only get enrolled in school, but also get the kind of support and stability they need so they can learn and grow in the classroom.”
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