HUD awards $1.9M grant to address youth homelessness in Franklin County

  • Community Action Pioneer Valley Executive Director Clare Higgins said she’s proud to have the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development award grants to two entities — Community Action Pioneer Valley and the city of Springfield — at a press conference Thursday at Springfield City Hall. STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

Staff Writer
Published: 8/29/2019 10:38:02 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Community Action Pioneer Valley is the recipient of a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for work to end youth homelessness.

Along with the city of Springfield, which received $2.4 million, 21 communities were also awarded the grant.

Community Action Pioneer Valley is the lead agency for the Three County Continuum of Care, which serves Franklin, Berkshire and Hampshire counties, but the funding is specifically for Franklin County.

In Springfield City Hall on Thursday morning, Community Action Pioneer Valley Executive Director Clare Higgins said she’s glad the funding is given to communities in Western Massachusetts.

“It’s kind of amazing that out of $10 million in the New England region, two of the recipients are here in the Pioneer Valley,” Higgins said. “It’s a tribute to the work all of us up and down the valley have been doing over many years to reduce homelessness. ... The challenges of an urban community like Springfield are different than the challenges of our rural community where people are spread out, the transportation network is not very good, the housing stock looks very different. We have a different set of challenges, but we want to have the same results.”

The department’s youth homeless demonstration program will help these communities to build local systems and will support a range of housing programs including rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing and host homes, said Housing and Urban Development New England Regional Administrator David Tille.

Tille said Community Action and the city of Springfield should be proud of its achievements because the grant program is competitive.

“You should both be very proud,” Tille said. “I’m proud to say we have four awardees here in the New England region. With these four grants, New England now has more than $10.7 million to put toward ending youth homelessness.”

Over the next several months, the communities selected for the grants will work with youth action boards, child welfare agencies and other community partners to create a plan to end youth homelessness, according to a Housing and Urban Development press release.

“They will also participate in a program evaluation to inform the federal effort to prevent and end youth homelessness going forward and will serve as leaders in the nation on the work to end homelessness among young people,” the release states.

Community Action became the lead agency of the Three County Continuum of Care in February.

Keleigh Pereira, program director for the Three County Continuum of Care, said the grant essentially doubles the program’s budget.

“It’s unbelievable, we get to expand the program now. The COC’s funding is $1.8 million to fund all three counties. The grant increases the funding by $1.9 million for a two-year period; that is specifically to support programs and projects for homeless youth from 17 to 24 in Franklin County,” Pereira said. “What happens now is that we go through a planning process involving young people currently with Community Action’s Youth Action Board. ... In the spring of 2020, area organizations will be able to apply to become one of our funded projects.”

She said the types of programs are going to be determined by the input of the youth groups to address the specific needs in Franklin County.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.




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