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Mon Valley programs among recipients of HUD funding for the homeless

| Monday, April 14, 2014, 3:01 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Auberle child care worker Sharif Watley displays a typical room at the Movin On facility in Duquesne, where up to 10 young men ages 18-24 can reside while seeking jobs and permanent housing.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
A former hospital and nursing home continues to serve as headquarters for First Step Recovery Homes in McKeesport, one of the Mon-Yough agencies receiving federal funding for supportive housing through Allegheny County's Department of Human Services.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Discussing matters at Auberle's Movin On facility in Duquesne are, from left, case manager and team leader Arnisha Keyes, child care worker Sharif Watley and supervisor Tim Kelly.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is continuing support of “Continuum of Care” programs in Allegheny County with a $14.3 million grant.

“There is a wide range that is accepted by HUD,” said Sister Mary Parks, executive director of Sisters Place in Clairton. “There are a number of different criteria.”

As announced Friday by county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, more than two dozen agencies will get aid for supportive services, safe havens, transitional housing and permanent housing for those with disabilities.

“It allows us to continue to grow our system of care while assisting more families and individuals,” county Department of Human Services director Marc Cherna said.

No new funding is involved. County officials said the $14.3 million only is a renewal of existing funding for a 19th year, with word not expected until next month about anything additional.

“We've been here for 22 years and received HUD funding for 19,” said Keith Giles, CEO of First Step Recovery Homes in McKeesport.

First Step offers a variety of services to the men ages 18-65 enrolled in its transitional housing program.

“There's case management services, family unification, domestic violence, child placement and job skills,” Giles said.

It's an 18-month program but on average enrollees spend nine months.

Sisters Place has a Daylight Program for homeless families with a single parent documented as having a significant disability, as well as transitional and permanent housing.

“We have 32 families on a day-to-day basis,” Parks said. “Ten are transitional and 22 other families are in our permanent program.”

Parks said the average length of time for families in the permanent program is three to four years, while by federal law the maximum time allowed in any transitional program is two years.

Other area recipients include Center for Victims in McKeesport and Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Auberle in Duquesne.

“We're providing transitional services for males who are homeless who are between 18 and 24,” said Arnisha Keyes, case manager and team leader for Auberle's Movin' On program.

That program can take in as many as 10 young men. One requirement of those enrolled is to save 50 percent of any income they earn during their stay.

“It helps with their permanent housing goals,” Keyes said. “They do not have to pay an occupancy fee. Normally that could be up to 30 percent to the program.”

Goodwill has Healthy Start House with six units in Duquesne, for homeless women who are either pregnant or have up to four children 10 years of age or younger.

Center for Victims has two apartment units, one for a single female, the other able to house a single female with children, and an eight-unit “transitional townhouse” program for women with children.

The apartments are part of a 12-month program; the townhouse program allows homeless families two years. In both, participants obtain paid employment or education, receive counseling, improve their credit, attend to any health or substance abuse issues and work on long-term goals for life beyond transitional housing.

Other recipients of the HUD grant include Bethlehem Haven, East End Cooperative Ministry, Mercy Life Center Corporation, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, ACTION Housing Inc., Allegheny Valley Association of Churches, Community Human Services Corp., Hosanna House, Light of Life Rescue Mission, Gaudenzia and Gaudenzia Erie Inc., HEARTH, Naomi's Place, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Sojourner House and Sojourner MOMS, Veterans Leadership Program, Alle-Kiski HOPE Center, Bridge to Independence, St. Vincent de Paul, Womansplace East and YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh.

Trib Total Media Staff Writers Aaron Aupperlee and Adam Brandolph contributed to this story. Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or

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