Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced that $34 million that the City has received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now available to help support residents who would be homeless without it.
This money is part of the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing program, which provides up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance for individuals and families.
“One effect of the national economic recession that we can see clearly is the increased use of our emergency shelter and interim housing programs,” Daley said in a news conference held at Catholic Charities, 721 N. LaSalle St., which houses and runs the City’s Homeless Prevention Call Center.
He said that even though Chicago’s homeless count has steadily decreased since the beginning of the City’s Plan to End Homelessness in 2003, the trend is not a good one. Through 2008 and into 2009, about 12 percent of the city’s shelter beds were vacant. Today less than 5 percent are vacant.
Until now, homelessness prevention assistance has been directed to people who needed one or two months of rent and utility help. With these stimulus funds, rental and utility assistance can now be offered for a longer period of time.
Daley said the funding will be distributed in this way:
The City must spend the money within two years.
Daley said the persons eligible for this program are among Chicago’s most vulnerable residents and have been deeply affected by the national recession.
Information on the program can be obtained by calling 311.
“If you’re in danger of being homeless or know someone who is, if you’re living in a shelter or know someone who is, please call 311 and find out how to take advantage of this program,” Daley said.
The Mayor said the federal economic stimulus program has done much to help Chicago create jobs, improve its infrastructure, provide summer jobs for young people and renovate existing school buildings and build new ones.
Chicago has been awarded more than $1.8 billion and applied for an additional $1.5 billion in competitive grants under the program.
Daley said the federal support helps the City build on the many steps it has already taken to end homelessness in Chicago.
“With the Plan to End Homelessness, we have in place a proven system of services. Its goals are prevention, getting people housed, providing services to keep them housed and putting them on the path to a better life,” the Mayor said.
“Our Plan is working, even in the face of the worst economic times most of us can remember and our commitment to it remains as strong as ever. With continued support from our many partners, including the federal government, we will end homelessness in Chicago and in so doing we will improve the quality of life for all residents of Chicago,” he said.