Bradford County might fund proposed homeless shelter
Bradford County is proposing to allocate $10,000 to help start a homeless shelter for women and children in the Burlington area, the county's human services director said.
Bradford County Human Services Director Bill Blevins made the announcement at a public hearing on Wednesday on the county's annual 2012-13 plan for its mental health, intellectual disabilities and drug & alcohol programs.
The $10,000 allocation is contained in Bradford County's proposed human services budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which contains cuts in all the main categories of the budget, Blevins said. The cuts occurred after the state reduced its human services funding to the county by 10 percent in various areas at the beginning of July, he said.
Bradford County Human Services is planning to spend $2.35 million on mental health services in FY 2012-13, which is $500,000 less than it did last year, he said. Despite the cut, none of the county's mental health programs will end, Blevins said.
The proposed budget also contains 10 percent less funding for programs for people with intellectual disabilities, he said.
The $10,000 to help start the homeless shelter comes from the $62,748 allocation of state Human Services Development Fund dollars that was given to the county this year, Blevins said.
The $10,000 will be used by the Local Housing Options Team and Partners in Family & Community Development to help pay for staff for the homeless shelter, so that it can get up and running, Blevins said.
The shelter would be located in the Endless Mountains Mission Center (EMMC) on U.S. Route 6 in West Burlington Township, Blevins said.
The Endless Mountain Mission Center, which is owned by the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church, currently does not have a homeless shelter in the building, said Jenenne Goliash, facilitator of the Local Housing Options Team.
The homeless shelter at the EMMC would be for short-terms stays, said Joyce Kerrick, executive director of Partners in Family & Community Development.
The only role that the United Methodist Church would have related to the homeless shelter would be to furnish the building where it is located, Goliash said.
Those who stayed in the shelter would have to be referred there one of a number of other agencies, Blevins said. They would not be able to walk in off the street, he said.
Only women and children will be able to stay in the shelter, because that is a restriction that was made by the owners of the EMMC building, he said.
The funds to operate the shelter would be administered by Partners in Family & Community Development, a non-profit agency, Goliash said.
Organizers of the homeless shelter hope to have it up and running before the cold weather sets in, she said.
There currently is no homeless shelter in Bradford County, Goliash said.
In 2011, Partners in Family & Community Development applied for $20,000 in Human Services Development Fund dollars to start a homeless shelter in a former group home in Troy, which was owned by Martha Lloyd Community Services. However, plans for the homeless shelter in Troy were abandoned after residents raised an issue related to Troy's zoning ordinance.
The Local Housing Options Team is a committee that was originally launched by the Bradford County government. Most of the members of the Local Housing Options Team are representatives of local human services agencies.
One source of funding for Bradford County Human Services that cut again this year was its grant from Pennsylvania's Homeless Assistance Program (HAP), Blevins said.
The county allocates its Homeless Assistance Program dollars to Futures Community Support Services, which uses the money house homeless people in motels and to provide rental assistance, Blevins said.
The county provides the HAP money to Futures in monthly installments, and Futures typically uses its entire monthly allocation in the first week of the month, he said.
Due to a lack of funding, Bradford County currently has 25 adults with intellectual disabilities on an emergency waiting list for housing, Blevins said. One of the circumstances that could result in a placement on the emergency list is if an adult were living with his or her parents and the parents became too old to care for the adult, Blevins said.
The county does have clients with intellectual disabilities who are currently homeless, but could have its first one in November, one of the 19 people at the public hearing said.
Bradford County's proposed human services budget is scheduled to be voted on today by the Bradford County commissioners. The budget must then be submitted to the state Department of Public Welfare by Oct. 31 for its approval.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: email@example.com.