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State gets $65M for homeless

10/6/2009 © Health News Florida

Florida has received more than $65 million to help the homeless and those who are in danger of joining them, the Department of Children and Families announced today. 

Housing assistance grants will be available in every county to individuals and families who are homeless or about to lose their housing because of eviction or foreclosure. Aid is restricted to households with incomes below 50 percent of an area’s median income.  

Miami-Dade, Florida's most populous county, is receiving about $7.5 million, but that's not all. Another $3.4 million goes to the city of Miami; Hialeah receives $1.7 million; and three others -- Miami Beach, Miami Gardens and North Miami -- split $1.8 million.

Others that are to receive big grants include:
 --Jacksonville-Duval County, $2.8 million
--Palm Beach County, $2.8 million;
--Orange County and Orlando, $3.5 million;
--Hillsborough County and Tampa, $4 million
--Broward-Fort Lauderdale will receive about $2.5 million.

One county, Dixie, elected not to accept a grant. It had been offered just over $52,000.

The grant money cannot be used for home mortgage payments. It's for rent, utilities and deposits for families who are behind in their rent or who are homeless.
“In a state with one of the highest home foreclosure rates and one of the highest unemployment rates, families will get the critical and immediate help they need to keep their families safe and together in a home,” DCF Secretary George Sheldon said in a release.
“The more we can prevent families from becoming homeless, or get homeless families into rental housing, the better chance they have to regain economic self-sufficiency and rebuild their lives.”

The $65 million is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is being allocated to Florida by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. About $44 million will be distributed by 31 cities and counties, with the remainder staying at the Department of Children and Families to be distributed later based on need.

The current estimate of homeless in Florida is almost 58,000, although that misses individuals and families who have taken refuge with friends and family.

The housing assistance available under this grant is based on need and limited to 18 months.   Here is further information on grant amounts and contacts in some counties. DCF press secretary Pat Smith said more information will be released later.