WATERTOWN — This week, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance announced annual Solutions to End Homelessness Program funding of $16.4 million for 64 nonprofit organizations and local government entities throughout New York to assist those at risk of becoming homeless or those experiencing homelessness.
Of the 67 grants awarded, two went to organizations in the north country: $400,000 to the Massena Independent Living Center for rapid rehousing and prevention in St. Lawrence, Franklin and Essex counties, and $121,730 to Snowbelt Housing for rapid rehousing and prevention in Lewis County.
No funding has been awarded to organizations in Jefferson County — the first time in 10 years.
“OTDA had a large pool of applicants for funding from the Solutions to End Homelessness Program during this grant cycle and all proposals were ranked as part of the competitive bidding process,” said Justin Mason, digital information officer and spokesman on behalf of the OTDA. “Only the top-ranked proposals could be awarded funding due to this high level of competition.”
STEHP provides funding to help New Yorkers avoid eviction, secure permanent housing, and receive services that can help them on the path to stability.
Because this is a five-year funding cycle, Jefferson County will not have another opportunity for this type of funding until 2024.
The two programs the funding was used for in the county were Rapid Rehousing and Homelessness Prevention. Rapid Rehousing provided assistance with finding and retaining permanent affordable housing for homeless persons and families, and Homelessness Prevention aided in maintaining permanent affordable housing to prevent homelessness.
Though the loss of funding is a blow to Jefferson County, there are those who have not given up exploring other avenues in an effort to keep these programs servicing those in need. One such person is Scott Gray, chairman of the County Board of Legislators, who said the county has been in contact with some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff, among others.
According to Mr. Gray, notice that the county’s proposal was not being funded came Sept. 3, leaving the county with less than 30 days to end a program that has assisted its vulnerable population for 10 years.
“We’re working on it right now and exploring other avenues, but I don’t think we’ll be included in this round, which is unfortunate because they are five-year cycles,” he said. “This is a major hole in service to the people of this county.”