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Grant Proposed to Help Homeless

Ventura County would receive more than $1 million from a federal homeless-assistance package unveiled in Washington earlier this month.

The $1.3-million grant, part of a $1.7-billion package still winding its way through Congress, would be administered locally with the guidance of the federal government, said Michael Siegel, a federal Housing and Urban Development spokesman.

“I think it will have a tremendous impact,” Siegel said. “This really offers a dramatic new approach to treating the homeless.”

But local officials are not celebrating just yet.

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“There’s no use getting excited about anything that has regulations attached because the federal government tells us what to use it for,” said Nancy Nazario, ombudsman for the Ventura County Public Social Services Agency.

“The $1.3 million is a nice chunk of money, but how much it helps depends on how we can use it,” Nazario said. “If we can get low-cost housing, then I think it will have a real strong effect.”

The Clinton Administration homeless-aid package represents the first time that the federal government has acknowledged the severity of the problem across the country, Siegel said.

“On our watch at HUD, we would like to cut (homelessness) in America by about a third,” he said. “What this entire plan does is be very frank and honest about the number of homeless persons in America, and that’s the first time the federal government has done that.”

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Nazario estimated Ventura County’s homeless population at about 3,000.


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