Recent nation-wide budget cuts have not stopped federal dollars from funding some local programs designed to help individuals who are homeless and struggling to get back on their feet.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development recently awarded more than $3.8 million to support 39 local homeless housing programs in Idaho, with a significant cut of that pie to the tune of $113,379 going toward Pocatello transitional housing programs such as Aid For Friends and SEICCA.
Aid For Friends works as both an emergency shelter program and as a transitional housing service that applied for this grant months ago. Program representatives said staff members were all holding their breath after talks of sequestration hit the main stage, but later realized they were awarded the full amount they had initially applied for.
“We give them financial fitness classes and we help with case management so that in two years they are productive, they are stable, and they're giving back to the community,” Aid For Friends Executive Director B.J. Stensland said in regards to how the money will help the program continue to extend its services. “It's a variety of people who can benefit from our housing.”
Stensland also mentioned there has been a somewhat prominent homeless population in the area, averaging between 50 to 60 people who sleep on the streets every night.
“There are people out there who are unsheltered, homeless, and who are living in their cars or in somebody's backyard,” Stensland said.
However, she said this goes unnoticed for the most part since the community is flushed full of programs to help house these individuals.
In fact, according to the most recent Aid For Friends records, Stensland said the program housed a total of 417 people this past year alone. There are 11 units that fall under the Aid For Friends umbrella, however the transitional housing sector “sheltered 10 individuals, four families, and 10 kids.”
The transitional housing unit is a continuum stage after people find themselves going through the emergency housing program.
Stensland said she will not know until next week as to whether or not Aid For Friends will receive the additional funding they requested from HUB as well.
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