At a press conference on August 10, 2005 held in the City of Jacksonville Office of the Mayor, Region IV Director Bob Young announced a HUD award of $900,000 in funding to provide permanent homes for approximately 60 chronic homeless residents in Jacksonville, FL. The funds were awarded through a new program called Housing for People Who Are Homeless and Addicted To Alcohol. This special initiative is designed to assist homeless persons who also struggle with chronic alcoholism. The funding is part of $10 million HUD is providing to a dozen pilot programs in 11 cities around the country through a new program.
Bob Young and Wanda Lanier.
Regional Director Bob Young addressed an audience of City officials, homeless service providers and advocates, with City Council member Kevin Hyde in attendance. "This investment will help prevent chronically homeless individuals from experiencing the continuous cycle of incarceration, emergency room visits, and short-term shelter habitation." Said Regional Director Young - former mayor of the City of Augusta, GA. "Today, we take another step toward ending chronic homelessness for our hardest-to-house, hardest-to-serve neighbors. One by one, we will offer a new life for those whose only life has been a life on the streets. I know that people can improve their life if they want to and if they have a little help," said Young.
Before introducing Wanda Lanier, Executive Director, Emergency Service and Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville, Young noted, "This program demonstrates HUD's compassionate commitment to our nation's most vulnerable citizens and represents an important step toward achieving President Bush's goal of ending chronic homelessness in America." According to Ms. Lanier, The program will target the chronically homeless, upward of 3,000 in Duval and Clay counties. Of those, Lanier estimated a large majority has a physical or mental disability.
The Times Union newspaper quoted Ms. Lanier on Thursday, August 11, 2005, "We will select the most-difficult, hardest-to-serve individuals living on the street," Lanier said. The 60 units provided by the project are the first toward the coalition's goal of adding 800 during the next decade. The new units should be available by the first of the year. "It's a far cry from the 800 units we plan," Lanier said. But "it is the first step in giving these individuals hope."
Gateway Community Services, Interim CEO, Gary Powers, shared a passionate example of the type of chronic homelessness this pilot project will address. It could begin to reduce the recidivism through law enforcement, excessive use of shelter bed hours and the burden on limited services caused by chronic homelessness and alcoholism. Gateway Community Services Inc. and River Region Human Services were selected to provide the mental-health support for individuals who will receive assistance through the pilot program.
HUD has worked closely with the Interagency Council for the Homeless to design this new demonstration program that targets individuals living on the streets for at least 365 days over the last five years and who also have a long-term addiction to alcohol. This initiative is supported by research that suggests as many as 150,000 persons experiencing chronic homelessness also often suffer from addiction to alcohol and tend to have the highest utilization of public facilities and services.