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Salt Lake County receives national grant for homelessness solutions

SLPD's Metro Support Bureau Deputy Chief Fred Ross talks with Matt Butler, homeless, about work in Salt Lake City Friday, April 17, 2015.
SLPD's Metro Support Bureau Deputy Chief Fred Ross talks with Matt Butler, homeless, about work in Salt Lake City Friday, April 17, 2015.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — State and county leaders announced Thursday that Salt Lake County was awarded a $1.6 million grant in its efforts to reduce chronic homelessness.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, issued the grant to Salt Lake County as a part of an initiative involving only 10 other communities across the nation, said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the corporation. Seventy communities applied for the grant.

“We are honored that Utah is one of the first states in the country to receive Operation AmeriCorps funding," Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said. "This additional resource will allow us to continue our efforts to support those facing chronic homelessness within the state.”

The grant will allow Salt Lake County to work with local nonprofit groups to support 50 AmeriCorps members over the next two years to reduce homelessness and expand economic opportunity. Among other duties, the members will provide housing, medical and job placement services to those struggling with homelessness.

“I salute Salt Lake County for its visionary program that will have a significant impact on the community and its residents who are homeless or facing homelessness,” Spencer said. “Through Operation AmeriCorps, Salt Lake County will continue transforming the lives of residents and providing economic opportunities that will strengthen the community.”

Salt Lake County is the sixth organization in the U.S. to receive Operation AmeriCorps funding.

“We know — because the data show us — that job placement, job training, and access to child care creates a path toward security and self-reliance for some homeless individuals,” Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said. “The Operation AmeriCorps grant will bolster Salt Lake County’s efforts to work collectively, across agencies, toward a common goal of getting homeless individuals and families off the streets and into safe homes.”

The federal agency’s investment includes $680,586 in AmeriCorps funding over two years, Spencer said. Additionally, AmeriCorps members completing their service are eligible to earn a total of $286,500 to pay for higher education. The $967,086 investment is projected to generate an additional $681,680 in local cash and in-kind matching contributions, bringing the total two-year investment to more than $1.6 million.

The program will begin recruiting for the AmeriCorps positions starting next fall, Spencer said.

McAdams said the grant will create a "noticeable and significant" boost for the program by adding additional resources. McAdams said the county has made great strides in chronic homelessness over the past 10 years, and the grant will allow it to "cross the finish line."

"This is a great day for Salt Lake County," he said.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com