Commissioners work to support elderly, homeless

Carl Erquiaga, Pete Olsen and Bus Scharmann discuss the contents of a rapid rehousing contract.

Carl Erquiaga, Pete Olsen and Bus Scharmann discuss the contents of a rapid rehousing contract.

During its regular meeting Thursday, the Board of Churchill County Commissioners unanimously approved two motions to help with housing and community development initiatives.

Shannon Ernst, director of social services and a public guardian, presented both items to the commissioners. The board approved an agreement with United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for the provision of Rapid Rehousing for the Homeless — the agreement totaling $88,707. According to Ernst, the funds would go to construction projects for transitional housing, though they have shifted from long-term housing to rapid rehousing. According to Ernst, it’s basically the same guidelines, but with different phrasing and placement of the program.

“You’re trying to get someone off the streets, into a sheltering environment, into permanent housing as soon as possible,” she said.

Rapid rehousing also allows people to sign up for things transitional housing does not allow. Jackie Stewart, a human services caseworker, said the grant would help provide rental assistance, case management costs, skills training, childcare and other services.

Ernst noted there are cases of people who will use these systems, but never actually seek help for drug problems or unemployment; she stressed they require people using the housing system be getting help for other things as well.

“We are not a housing first model,” she said. “I think our model has been very successful.”

The commissioners also gave approval for applications on the Community Development Block Grant totaling $100,000. They also gave approval to start a pre-application review for fiscal year 2019.

Ernst said they received two applications for the grant. One was a “feasibility plan for C.A.R.T. relocation.” Ernst said the C.A.R.T. board was looking at relocation costs and was considering a location near the Roads Department’s buildings. They are setting up a draft of a $50,000 development plan for how to use the space, as well as looking at various ways to fund construction. Ernst said the goal would be for the construction to be done by January 2019.

The other application was asking the county to sponsor the Rural Nevada Continuum of Care. Ernst noted this was something they have done since 2000 and is a requirement for receiving HUD funds to rural areas — the funds would go to supporting Churchill County’s homeless, housing projects and planning, among other things.

This contract also would be for $50,000. It normally goes to Social Entrepreneurs, Inc. and goes toward overseeing planning efforts, homeless count and other items.

“It’s a large process,” Ernst said.

She added CEDA approved of both contracts and noted funds could be awarded within the next year for construction to begin almost right away.

“Both of these are priorities within the HCNDA,” Ernst said of the applications.


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