A federal grant recently secured by the Salvation Army in Ashland has already helped the agency to reach out to more of the area’s homeless.
Officials said this week, that after a year hiatus, the organization will receive an Emergency Solutions Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for $77,452. This year’s award is more than double the agency’s 2011 award.
Although the funds have not yet arrived the promise of them has already allowed the agency to rescind a $10 nightly fee it enacted for individuals who stayed at the shelter past the first week, said Capt. Patrick Richmond.
Richmond said the fee was abolished immediately upon news of the grant award. “The monies are going to help us tremendously with our emergency shelter and emergency services. It’s a blessing.”
He believes the fee was an insurmountable barrier to individuals who needed shelter. “There are eight people in the shelter, said Richmond, “No one can afford it. With us being able to drop that, I see a serious increase in our over night stays.”
Between July 2012 and early April the 30 bed shelter housed 529 individuals for more than 3,900 nights. The average stay was eight nights and more than 7,952 meals were provided to shelter occupants, according to officials.
Over the last seven years, homelessness has tripled and is regularly an issue when community health assessment reports are compiled in Boyd and Greenup counties.
In addition to off-setting the fee, the grant will also help the agency to dole out more for food assistance, rent and utilities and furniture vouchers, according to Richmond.
The Salvation Army joins the Shelter of Hope, CAReS and Safe Harbor, in receiving the grant, said Holly West, who wrote the grant and is a Salvation Army board member.
Safe Harbor received $118,500, the Shelter of Hope $105,000, and CAReS $20,000, she said. “That is the most combined funding to come to Ashland, ever,” she said, referring specifically to this annual federal grant.
The agencies all work together through various partnerships, frequently providing different resources to the same clients. That spirit of cooperation and collaboration are what made the grant possible, said West whose full-time job is at the Ashland Boyd County Health Department where she also grant writes and coordinates a number of large programs that cross agency boundaries.
“This was a little out of my area of expertise, Debbie Sivis at the Shelter of Hope was able to come help me and she was a great asset,” said West, adding, “I couldn’t have been able to do it.” Sivis is the executive director of the Shelter of Hope.
“The way I see it, partnerships equals substantiality. We have to be able to sustain the current programs we have here locally to be able to serve our clientele,” she said. “We are blessed to have such good partnerships here locally. Every day those are increasing and we’re networking as well. I think Ashland, compared to some other regions, we do very well working together, even balancing out what one cannot provide.”
Richmond, who was assigned to the Ashland post just last month, agreed. “We all have a heart for this ministry, when it comes to serving those less fortunate and the fact we can collaborate with other agencies in the Ashland area is phenomenal,” he said.
Richmond, who came from Nashville, said he’s worked in other larger areas where agencies collaborate but those partnerships, he said, were “not nearly as effective as it is in Ashland.”
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org