The Salt Lake City Housing Authority and Volunteers of America have banded together to implement a transitional housing program for homeless families, the second step to "break the cycle" of homelessness.
Community leaders last month dedicated the Salt Lake Community Shelter and Resource Center to provide emergency housing for up to 240 single men and 110 family members from the city's community of roughly 4,000 homeless."But it (the homeless shelter) doesn't help people moving out of a homeless setting," said Chris Sheafor, deputy director of the Salt Lake City Housing Authority.
So, to help families leaving the homeless shelter to get "back into the fold of society" Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis formed a committee to devise a transitional housing plan, Housing Authority Director Arlo Nelson said.
The Housing Authority, which is charged in part with developing affordable housing in the city, joined with Volunteers of America, a social agency, to implement the plan, Nelson said.
VOA recently won a major grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and will use $400,000 to $500,000 of the grant to, with the Housing Authority, acquire 17 transitional housing units, he said.
The agencies make an effective coalition to address homelessness, Nelson said. VOA conducts job training and other programs to help homeless people adjust, while the Housing Authority's expertise is elsewhere.
"We're not the experts in the case work; we're the experts in housing," Nelson said.
The agency is already considering buying 17 transitional homes throughout the city, including six duplexes and five single-family homes, Sheafor said. "I would say around March is when we'd be starting to move people in.
"One of the major goals of the Housing Authority is to move people toward a higher level of self-sufficiency," Sheafor said. The VOA will play the lead role in developing that aspect of the transitional housing program.
VOA counselors will work closely with homeless clients to help them find jobs, Sheafor said. Clients must use 30 percent of their income for rent in transitional housing facilities, he said.
Families can only stay 18 months in a transitional home so families "must be serious" about becoming self-sufficient, Nelson said.
The program will only be available for homeless families, not single men and women who are homeless, Sheafor said. "The shelter concept is more helpful for families," he said.
However, if the program grows, single occupancy transitional homes could also be available, Nelson said. "If it deserves expansion, that's one area we'll want to expand," he said.