The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in combination with the Supportive Housing and Shelter Plus Program, gave the $11.5 million to North Carolina to fight the escalating problem of homelessness. The grant was announced by Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., last Wednesday.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro's Inter-Faith Council received $349,125 of the grant. The entire grant will be used to support Project Homestart, one of the IFC's many programs.
Josh Diem, program director for Project Homestart, wrote the IFC's request for funding and said he was pleasantly surprised that it received the full amount requested.
Diem emphasized the importance of the program to families in the community. "(Project Homestart) offers transitional housing for homeless families," Diem said. "We provide a safe and stable place for 15 families to live for up to two years."
Diem said the facility houses families with adults who need schooling, out-patient drug treatment, shelter from abusive homes or financial and legal help.
"The need that's out there is greater than the number of spots, so applicants go through an interview process," Diem said.
Diem said families that live at the facility are subject to rules, curfews and a progressive level system.
Facility residents are required to pay $20 the first month, and each month's bill is $20 higher than the previous month's. At the end of their stay, the money is returned to them. "We don't expect people to leave with their picture complete," Diem said. "We're talking about adults who need to change and do things differently -- that takes time."
Chris Moran, executive director of the IFC, said the grant lifted a huge burden off the IFC, whose cash budget is $1.5 million. But he said the community should not forget the other programs that still are in need of support.