Carson City will receive $43,408 of the nearly $16 million awarded to Nevada last week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for homeless programs in the state.
The money funds Carson City’s shelter plus care programs, which provide case management and work to find housing for the chronically homeless with disabilities.
The HUD funds are used to pay rent at fair market value for individuals. The 2018 fair market value for an efficiency in Carson City is $564 and $682 for a one-bedroom unit.
The program covers the housing costs for eight individuals, but the money is pooled so if Carson City Health and Human Services (CCHHS), which administers the programs, can find apartments below fair market value, more individuals can be served.
But that’s unlikely now: vacancy rates are low, rents are rising and CCHHS is having trouble finding enough apartments to help eight people, much less more.
“We have seven placed and one opening because we can’t find a physical location,” said Mary Jane Ostrander, division manager, human services. “We haven’t had an apartment open up in January. We had two or three in December and were able to place them.”
Data is collected on each homeless person eligible for the program in the state. A matchmaker at Nevada Rural Housing Authority, said Ostrander, works to place individuals in rural Nevada, including Carson City and other locations if space is available.
Right now, there are 19 eligible individuals from Carson City awaiting housing in that queue, said Ostrander.
Lack of housing also led the city to shift some of its funding this year from the shelter plus care programs to a planning application.
Last year, the city received $59,154 from the federal agency but couldn’t use it all because CCHHS couldn’t find enough apartments.
So instead of having the unused grant money revert back to HUD, this year $18,834 was dedicated to a planning application for CCHHS’ role as coordinated entry.
“We’re the coordinated entry. Any homeless person who shows up anywhere must be referred to our office,” said Ostrander.
The city will also be using a mobile app to take the point-in-time count, an annual count of the nation’s homeless population. In Carson City, a team of 14 volunteers, managed by the Sheriff’s Office, will attempt to count the city’s homeless population through observation and some individual interviews.
CCHSS matches the HUD funds primarily through case management, counseling, and other assistance, and continues to work with those waiting for housing to provide services as long as the individuals show up.
“If we don’t have a place for them a lot of them don’t come back,” said Ostrander.