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Local efforts to reduce homelessness getting help from state grant program

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Two local projects aimed at reducing homelessness are among 46 statewide getting a boost from a state grant program.

Rapid Re-Housing Youth, a Valley Community Services Board project, was approved for a $220,387 grant from the Virginia Housing Trust Fund Homeless Reduction Grants program, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday.

This project will provide RRH for LGBTQ+ youth in partnership between Valley Community Services Board and Shenandoah LGBTQ Center. The center serves as an access point and completes assessment, documentation and provides temporary shelter if needed.

Plans include an expansion into Rockingham and Harrisonburg counties.

Mercy House Rapid Re-housing, a project led by Mercy Housing Inc., won approval for a $100,000 grant for a continuation of the Rapid Rehousing program that has been supported in part by the VAHTF for the last five years.

This funding will support housing stabilization financial assistance, rental assistance, housing search and placement, and housing stabilization case management.

The project aims to rapidly rehouse 45 families or youth.

“We have made historic investments in the Virginia Housing Trust Fund at a time when the importance of affordable housing has never been more evident,” Northam said. “Making sure every Virginian has a place to call home is so critical, and these grants will continue the Commonwealth’s leadership in reducing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Community Development has doe heroic work to keep people in their homes and support small businesses during the pandemic.

“I want to thank DHCD Director Erik Johnson for his superb leadership of the agency, especially during the past 22 months. He has led an outstanding and creative team in finding innovative ways to help people during a challenging time.”

Northam and the General Assembly invested a historic $55 million in the Virginia Housing Trust Fund this fiscal year. The administration’s outgoing budget proposes an additional $300 million in funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund over the next two years.

The grants announced this week represent 20 percent of this fiscal year’s Virginia Housing Trust fund investment. The remaining funds are awarded to production of new or rehabilitated housing units through the Affordable and Special Needs Housing Program. Those awards produce both homeownership and rental opportunities and are announced twice per year.

“The Virginia Housing Trust Fund is a critical resource for the continued construction and maintenance of much needed permanent supportive housing and innovative support programs aimed at reducing homelessness and keeping it rare, brief, and non-recurring,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “These grants will assist our most vulnerable residents by providing access to services to support them as they regain stability in housing.”

The goal of the Virginia Housing Trust Fund Homeless Reduction Grant Program is to reduce homelessness throughout Virginia. The Department of Housing and Community Development supports Balance of State Continuum of Care local planning group strategies and homeless service projects that are a part of an effective emergency crisis response system in communities.

The Homeless Reduction Grant program must be coordinated with other community-based activities. These grantees use a local centralized or coordinated assessment/entry system, which is the best practice for a housing-focused approach for helping households experiencing homelessness quickly regain stability in permanent housing.


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