Three County Continuum of Care receives $3M to support housing services 

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Staff Writer
Published: 3/26/2022 5:55:11 PM

The Three County Continuum of Care, a program of Community Action Pioneer Valley, has been awarded $3.05 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to support existing regional housing programs and the development of new ones.

According to Community Action, of Greenfield, the grant is part of the $2.65 billion in fiscal year 2021 Continuum of Care Competition Awards that HUD has distributed to approximately 7,000 homeless, housing and service programs across the country.

Locally, the money will help to fund a new housing program in Northampton, which includes the addition of 16 beds with housing and medical support services on site, said Keleigh Pereira, program director of the Three County Continuum of Care. The program brings the number of beds across all three counties to 190.

“It’s still a small number of beds if you think about three counties, but it also provides us with planning funds and coordinated entry, as well as funds our housing information management system, which is the data management system that all of our providers collect so we can report it to the federal government,” she said.

The funding will also support new programs for housing access support geared specifically toward people experiencing domestic violence and survivors of other types of violence.

“We’re working really closely with domestic service providers in the area,” Pereira said. “We will be looking for people with lived experience to inform our planning for that.”

In essence, the money will allow the Continuum of Care to put housing navigators — people who help to connect service providers and housing providers — on the ground.

Pereira explained that three types of housing the continuum provides are transitional housing, rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing; in other words, the next step after a shelter.

Pereira said with its annual award, HUD identifies the types of programs it wants to see applications for, at which point the Continuum of Care releases a request for project proposals.

“Part of the work of the continuums of care … is to really recognize the specific needs of various populations who are experiencing homelessness,” she said. “We all have more than one identity. In our identification of those who are experiencing homelessness, we’re also paying attention to equity measures to be sure we’re serving our populations in the way that’s best for them, and we’re not doing a one-size-fits-all approach.”

This year, she said, there was significant interest in supporting people experiencing domestic violence as well as homelessness. In a three-month-long application process, the Continuum of Care applied to HUD for the funding for the programs proposed by different agencies.

“Community Action is called the sole recipient of that funding, so we then administer those funds to the various organizations that are going to provide that housing and service,” Pereira said. “Then we do a lot of oversight and support of those programs.”

She said the funding it received through HUD increased by about $230,000 this year, largely to support the two new programs, she said. With the majority of funding going directly to housing services — and the rest going toward coordinated entry/data systems and planning — HUD funding is determined based on fair market rent.

“In Massachusetts, there are 12 continuums of care that cover various geographic areas,” Pereira said. “Ours is one of the largest geographic coverage areas, but in terms of funding, we’re a small continuum of care.”

Pereira said programming is supported by other funding sources at the state and federal levels, too, but the annual allocation through HUD “is a huge benefit.”


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