At their regular meeting Wednesday morning, Warren County Commissioners approved submission of a grant request to aid residents, who are at risk of homelessness, in securing more permanent housing.
The commissioners approved the Warren Forest Counties Economic Opportunities Council (EOC) to apply for a $79,270 Emergency Solutions Grant.
The grant is state administered but funded through a program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
"It's a continuation of the economic stimulus monies," said EOC Grant Administrator Laurie Livingston. "It's coming down basically from HUD...in order to continue services to ensure people don't become homeless. Homelessness is one of the greatest threats in Warren County. What this grant will do is ensure people who are at risk or in transitional housing don't become homeless."
According to Livingston, the grant funding would help pay for deposits and service fees as well as case management for those moving into low-income housing. The money also provides a means to move those in temporary, transitional housing to more permanent dwellings. Livingston said funds would primarily target families with children and young adults under 25 facing housing difficulties.
The bulk of grant monies would be spent in Warren County, while approximately $15,000 would go to Forest County.
Commissioner John Bortz asked, "Are you working with the local housing authority?"
"Yes, we would be working with those folks, that would qualify as stable housing," Livingston said.
Bortz asked, "What about (county) workforce development?"
"This deals more with the housing end, but, yes, we work with them," Livingston responded. "It's kind of difficult to find a job if you don't have an address."
The commissioners approved a motion to pursue the grant application and designate the EOC as administrator of the funds. The EOC will also secure any required matching funds.
A contract with the Edmund L. Thomas Detention Center in Erie was approved at a rate of $401.31 per day. The contract is for secure detention at the facility, which serves children and youth detention needs.
Warren County only has one individual in that type of facility. According to Commissioner John Eggleston, the individual was placed at the facility recently.
According to Bortz, the county has traditionally shouldered approximately 20 percent of costs in that type of situation.
"It's traditionally been 80/20," Bortz said. "We're looking at about 80 bucks a day."
"You can see how those guys... managed to get kickbacks," Eggleston noted in reference to recent scandals in which judges accepted money to sentence juvenile offenders to private, for-profit detention centers. "That's how they made millions."
"It's typically a last resort to go to this type of facility," Bortz noted.
County costs for the month totalled approximately $104,400 while jail costs totaled approximately $47,317. In total, the county spent approximately $151,717.
Operating cash for the county totals approximately $588,000, which is an increase of approximately $1,000 from the same time last year.