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$400,000 in federal grants sought to help homeless


Carroll County has asked the federal government for nearly $400,000 in grants to address the needs of its homeless population.

The 50-page grant application was approved by the county commissioners on Thursday and forwarded to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development on Friday.

Its requests included about $88,000 for temporary shelters and other transitional housing. Officials also sought roughly $82,000 to improve data systems, which would allow for more accurate counts of those needing shelter and pay the salary of an employee to manage the survey system.

Human Services Programs of Carroll County, which oversees the shelters and other projects, conducted a survey of Carroll's homeless population three months ago, as required by HUD. By contacting shelters, community care groups and soup kitchens throughout the county, case workers located 102 homeless people; they added 20 percent to that total to cover others living on the streets who had been missed in the count.

The survey also revealed that nearly 80 percent of the homeless have no means of transportation. Jolene Sullivan, county director of citizen services, told the county commissioners yesterday that with the latest technology, future surveys could be more accurate.

"The survey was cumbersome and there was a lot of information we were not able to gather, but it was a learning experience for everybody," Sullivan said. "HUD recommends homeless housing providers find solutions for data problems."

In addition, Sullivan has requested $158,000 to renovate a four-apartment home for transitional housing and to assist its residents in job training. Residents could live at the Westminster multifamily home for as long as two years while they work toward self-sufficiency.

"There is no lease, but a contract based on the resident's goals," said Sullivan.

Residents' financial contributions to their housing would cover the 30 percent match required by HUD for the grant.

Another $62,000 would pay for a program that assists the mentally ill who have criminal justice problems.

"Very often, these are people incarcerated because they are off their medications," Sullivan said. "It is most difficult for these people to find housing once they are released. They often become homeless again and are reincarcerated."

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