Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stimulus Funds for New York Can Be Used for Utility Assistance to Prevent Homelessness

HUD recently announced that it has allocated new economic stimulus funds to New York for prevention of homelessness, including assistance to individuals in paying utility bills when that is related to current or potential homelessness.

According to the Notice regarding the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program:

The funds under this program are intended to target two populations of persons facing housing instability: 1) individuals and families who are currently in housing but are at risk of becoming homeless and need temporary rent or utility assistance to prevent them from becoming homeless or assistance to move to another unit (prevention), and 2) individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness (residing in emergency or transitional shelters or on the street) and need temporary assistance in order to obtain housing and retain it (rapid re-housing).

Low income households are often in a situation where due to a utility shutoff, relocation is necessary, and persons in homeless shelters are sometimes stymied in securing an apartment because the landlord insists upon the tenant having a utility account that has been refused by the utility due to claimed arrears. Under the HUD program,

Financial assistance is limited to the following activities: short-term rental assistance, medium-term rental assistance, security deposits, utility deposits, utility payments, moving cost assistance, and motel and hotel vouchers. Grantees and subgrantees must not make payments directly to program participants, but only to third parties, such as landlords or utility companies.

The amount of assistance available is considerable:

HPRP funds may be used for up to 18 months of utility payments, including up to 6 months of utility payments in arrears, for each program participant, provided that the program participant or a member of his/her household has an account in his/her name with a utility company or proof of responsibility to make utility payments, such as cancelled checks or receipts in his/her name from a utility company.
The allocation of funds to grantees in New York State is as follows:

NY NY State Program $25,527,382
NY Albany $1,523,772
NY Babylon Town $526,925
NY Binghamton $955,655
NY Buffalo $6,594,081
NY Dutchess County $654,862
NY Elmira $560,951
NY Erie County $1,209,200
NY Islip Town $840,437
NY Jamestown $573,517
NY Monroe County $789,300
NY Mount Vernon $745,701
NY Nassau County $6,458,352
NY New Rochelle $686,935
NY New York $73,929,729
NY Niagara Falls $1,037,411
NY Onondaga County $897,454
NY Orange County $713,117
NY Rochester $3,954,235
NY Rockland County $860,643
NY Schenectady $1,048,938
NY Suffolk County $1,511,657
NY Syracuse $2,524,997
NY Tonawanda Town $772,574
NY Troy $845,286
NY Union Town $578,661
NY Utica $1,192,417
NY Westchester County $2,373,791
NY Yonkers $1,533,003

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