How does HEARTH help end homelessness?
Homelessness is about poverty, not just putting a roof over someone’s head. HEARTH’s Transitional Housing Program is designed to lift families out of poverty through education and employment, stopping the generational cycle of homelessness. In doing so, it reduces and eliminates the need for these families to rely on public funding to survive. Our program is a great investment because we spend federal tax dollars to reduce our client’s reliance on public support in the future.
What is occurring with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and their funding for HEARTH?
Allegheny County’s Homeless Advisory Board (HAB) administers HUD federal funds to local agency programs. In May, they voted to eliminate federal funding for all transitional housing programs in Allegheny County beginning in 2017. This means HEARTH will no longer be eligible to receive federal funds through HAB, as of October 1, 2017. This decision affects $3.8 million in funding for 20 programs (including HEARTH’s HOMES Transitional Housing Program), and potentially displaces 80 families (who number about 300 people), and 176 individuals.
HEARTH’s Board of Directors, volunteers and staff are committed to staying true to our mission to provide transitional housing to families in need rather than change our mission in order to secure government funding.
Do we know why this is happening?
From what we can discern, we believe this is being driven by a desire to reduce the reportable population of homeless people because people in transitional housing are counted as “homeless.” By increasing funding so these permanent supportive housing programs can add beds, HAB can reduce the reportable homeless population. So investing in HEARTH reduces the need for long-term public support for these families. However, going forward, these rapid re-housing and permanent housing programs will be the sole beneficiaries of government funding when HAB eliminates funding for transitional housing.
What does the impact of this funding loss mean for HEARTH and the families it serves?
While there will be no immediate threat to HEARTH and the families we serve, the federal HUD funds that HEARTH receives total $420,000 or 40% our annual budget. We need your help now to prepare for this change so HEARTH can continue to provide the families with the support and services they need, including housing.