As a rainy morning melted into a dreary afternoon Thursday, Carroll County’s commissioners gave a unanimous thumbs-up for the county’s housing bureau to partner with the county’s health department in running a federally funded long-term housing assistance program for those living with HIV and AIDS.
For more than 12 years, the county’s health department has offered short-term financial assistance to low-income families living with HIV and AIDS through a program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through this program, the health department has been able to help families with rent and utility costs and equip them with other services, all with the goal of providing housing stability to those living with HIV and AIDS, county health planner Maggie Kunz wrote in an email.
The health department served 17 families through this program last year, Kunz added.
With the blessing from the commissioners, though, the county’s housing bureau will be able to assist the health department in bringing another aspect of the HUD-funded program to the county, which will allow the county to offer housing support to its residents for a much longer period of time than the 21 weeks funded by the original program, Kunz wrote.
“Housing is essential in helping people take care of their health, shelter their families and lead more positive and productive lives,” she wrote.
The program could serve up to six or seven households annually, according to the agenda from Thursday’s meeting.
HUD requested that the health department partner with the housing bureau because it said that would be the most efficient way for the county to serve those who benefit from this program, Kunz added. Other counties that receive HUD funding for this program administer it through their housing authorities, since they are the most familiar with housing options and can easily transition program participants to other housing programs if need be, she wrote.
During the meeting, Danielle Yates, chief of the county’s housing and community connections bureau, told commissioners that Baltimore City is one of such jurisdictions that administers funding in this way. She said her agency has been corresponding closely with the city to ensure that it would be able to offer assistance through the program. For families who receive long-term assistance through this program, it would be the eventual goal for them to transition to regular housing choice vouchers to free up spots in the program for other families, Yates said.
To support the county in running this program during its 2021 fiscal year, it will receive over $58,000, county Citizen Services Director Celene Steckel told the commissioners. The county will not be required to match any of the awarded funding.