Published June 16th, 2020 at 10:44 AM
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is allocating $31.3 million in additional CARES ACT funding to assist the homeless in Missouri. About $5 million in new funding is coming to Kansas City.
The Emergency Solutions Grants are in response to a growing number of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless due to job loss, wage reduction, or illness brought on by the pandemic. This marks the second wave of CARES ACT funding Missouri has received since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
The money can go towards operating emergency shelters and providing hotel/motel vouchers for families.
In early April, HUD gave nearly $19 million in Emergency Solutions Grants to Missouri, with $2 million of those funds allocated to Kansas City. In addition, Kansas City received a $4.6 million Community Development Block Grants and $250,000 to help homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
Kansas City’s funding more than doubled in the latest round of assistance.
|State||Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Grantee||Award Amount|
|St. Louis County||$3,187,544|
About $18.7 million will go to Missouri’s non-entitlement cities, or cities with less than 50,000 people. This is more than double the amount non-entitlement cities received in April.
While the state distributes Emergency Solutions Grants directly to the bigger cities, non-entitlement cities have to apply through the state for grants.
Jason Mohr serves as HUD’s regional administrator for Kansas and Western Missouri. He said he’s seen smaller, rural communities host open forums where residents “state their case” on why they should receive a certain portion of the funds.
He’s also seen other federal agencies and local nonprofit groups working together to provide food and water to these communities.
“I was in Springfield last week, and met with an organization that works with the National Guard to hand out boxes of frozen food every Thursday,” Mohr said. “There were probably a couple hundred cars lined up… giving away food for two, three hours straight.”
KC Tenants is one of the nonprofits operating here. Organizer Tiana Caldwell has set up a fund that provides people with groceries and basic household items.
“We want to make sure peoples’ basic needs are met,” Caldwell said. “The crisis had already run rampant and people were so far behind so it was too little too late.”
Caldwell says many people still haven’t received their funding from the first wave of grants, even though they met the qualifications. Even though she doesn’t know what’s going on, Caldwell says she’ll continue to provide resources any way she can.
“This pandemic proves that there are so many people that are one crisis away from homelessness,” Caldwell said. “And we’re just trying to help them survive.”
Valorie Carson, Director of Community Planning at United Community Services of Johnson County, said the funding shift in this round of assistance is due to an increase in risk.
“[HUD] used a different formula on how to distribute the funds from the first grant to the new one,” Carson said. “They looked at risk of transmission of COVID, high numbers of rates of sheltered or unsheltered homeless, economic and housing market conditions.”
Mawa Iqbal is a summer intern with Kansas City PBS.