$4.1-Million Grant Will Aid Homeless

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County received a $4.1-million federal housing grant to assist residents who are most in need--homeless people who are physically and mentally disabled, officials announced Friday.

"The exciting thing about the grant is that affordable housing is such a big issue in Orange County and this is going to really open doors for people who really need it," said Karen Roper, the county's homeless coordinator.

The bulk of the grant, $1.4 million, will be administered through the county's Health Care Agency to help disabled residents in need of housing and mental-health services.

At least 30 individual vouchers will be available to pay for an apartment for up to five years, Roper said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant was especially good news to Sister Kathy Stein at Thomas House, a Garden Grove shelter for homeless families that received $92,400.

"This is very good news. We got renewed," Stein said, adding that she had spent Friday lining up needy families with the facility's Adopt-a-Family program.

"We've had 60 families lined up outside our door and all day long we've been getting gifts and giving them out and now we get this news. This is great," she said.

Thomas House was also one of 10 social service centers that applied for $756,000 in child-care funds that were granted through the Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Services Inc.

"We don't have child care at our facilities and we have to pay for it for our clients and it's crucial," Stein said. "They need child care while we're helping the parents with employment counseling and providing parenting classes."

Thomas House has provided housing programs for three years.

Other programs that received the HUD grants were the Helping Our Mentally Ill Experience Success, or HOMES, Inc., and Serving People In Need, which received $155,000 for renewing a substance-abuse recovery program that serves 186 homeless people.

HOMES received $420,000 that will help the group buy a 29-unit apartment complex in Stanton. It also received $1.2 million for 29 apartment vouchers for disabled and special-needs homeless people.

Typically, the homeless disabled are among those people in the county "who fall in the cracks" of the welfare system, Roper said.

"This grant is a good opportunity [for them] to stay in a permanent housing environment," she said.

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