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Mon-Yough agencies to benefit from HUD grant

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 4:11 a.m.

Various agencies with Mon-Yough ties will benefit from a $13.1 million federal grant to Allegheny County's Department of Human Services.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's Continuum of Care grant is aimed at efforts to reduce homelessness.

“We all put our applications together to ask for support for the homeless,” said Sister Mary Parks, executive director of Sisters Place in Clairton, which received more than $400,000.

The continuum of care grant is the first part of a multi-tiered HUD funding effort. County officials said more funds will be considered and awarded in the near future.

“The 67 projects that were renewed with these funds will help us to continue assisting those with complex housing issues,” county Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

“We are especially pleased because this funding represents a $158,000 increase over what was requested,” county human services director Marc Cherna said.

The money is being split among 58 agencies.

Auberle will get $234,573 for its 10-bed “Movin' On” program in Duquesne for homeless males ages 17-25.

“Youth can be there up to two years by HUD regulations but the average stay is 12-15 months,” Auberle CEO John Lydon said. “We work with them to complete their education and get them job skills and teach everything in daily living from saving money, credit and checking accounts to work ethic to cooking and cleaning their apartment and laundry.”

Sisters Place is getting $265,023 for 15 permanent housing units for single parents with disabilities and their children and $136,544 for 10 transitional housing units for homeless single parents and their children.

“We had 56 families in here in 2012,” said Parks, whose congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph is one of 12 now involved in that Clairton agency. “We can help 32 families with housing at a time.”

There were 14 congregations involved when Sisters Place was founded in 1993. Also, at one time, there was more money coming from Washington.

Parks said decisions during the administration of President George W. Bush reduced the amount of HUD funding from 72-75 percent to “more like 47 percent” of what her agency gets each year.

“They decided to do housing first, with a ‘housing first' model, so supportive service programs were not funded in the same way,” Parks said. “We had two grants that just supported our children's programs. They were completely defunded.”

It forced Sisters Place and others to do more fundraising.

“We have three big events each year,” Parks said. “I do a lot of stump speeches. We have some foundation support but our individual support has been growing.”

Auberle supplements its federal grant with $221,000 from other sources. Lydon said the success rate for Movin' On in the fiscal year that began July 1 is 90 percent.

Adagio Healthy Start House in Duquesne is getting $229,116 for its multi-faceted six-unit transitional housing program for homeless women with up to four young children.

The Center for Victims' Womansplace transitional program in McKeesport will get $200,203 for townhouses with eight units and $11,359 for two units, an efficiency unit that can house a single female and a two-bedroom unit that can house a single female with children.

Action-Housing Inc. will get $166,660 for its 11 Housing Plus II units in Braddock and $178,797 for its Homeless Youth Transition Program.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or