Mayor Swearengin, Fresno First Steps Home Announce Major Grant to Assist Homeless
10/04/2011

Mayor Ashley Swearengin today joined members of the Fresno First Steps Home board of directors in announcing a $250,000 grant to the Fresno Housing Authority to provide housing assistance and wrap around case management services to homeless individuals in the City of Fresno.

The grant is the largest awarded by Fresno First Steps Home, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and ending the cycle of homelessness. Fresno First Steps Home focuses on a “housing-first’ model that is aimed at connecting participants with an umbrella of services, including substance abuse and mental-health programs, healthcare, benefits acquisition and medical treatment.

“This funding is a critical part of our efforts to bring a variety of resources and approaches to the table to meet the challenge of addressing homelessness in our city,” said Mayor Swearengin, who serves on the Fresno First Steps Home board of directors. “This funding will help take our most vulnerable people off the street and give them the resources they need to get on the path to self-sufficiency.”

The funding will be used to house a minimum of 20 homeless adults and provide wrap around services for up to a year. It will be targeted to people who currently are homeless and ranked high on a vulnerability index assessment conducted earlier this year. The funding also will focus on those in the area surrounding the Monterey Street bridge, which will be demolished later this year or early next year.

“This grant will allow us to reach those who are most vulnerable and help stop the downward spiral that accompanies chronic homelessness,” said Preston Prince, Executive Director/CEO of the Fresno Housing Authority. “Offering housing first along with an appropriate network of support not only reduces the extremely high taxpayer cost of providing emergency services to the homeless in our community - it literally saves lives.”

Under the grant, the Housing Authority can provide a number of forms of financial assistance depending on the household’s needs, including:

  • Security deposit payments;
  • Moving costs (up to $200)
  • Short-term rental assistance (up to three months)
  • Medium-term rental assistance (4 to 12 months)
  • Utility deposits;
  • Utility payment assistance up to 12 months.

Mayor Swearengin said Fresno First Steps Home has raised more than $500,000 from almost 2,000 contributions toward Mayor Swearengin’s goal of $1 million a year to implement the City and County’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness. Mayor Swearengin said anyone wanting to donate to Fresno First Steps Home has several options:

  • By visiting FresnoFirstStepsHome.org, residents can make a one-time donation in any amount by taking the “Buck a Month” pledge in which they donate $12 a year to the effort, or set up a monthly donation in any amount through PayPal.
  • Donations also can be made by texting the word HOME to 85944 to make a one-time, $10 donation to Fresno First Steps Home.
  • Donations also can be mailed to City Manager’s Office, 2600 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93721. Checks should be made payable to “Fresno First Steps Home.”

In addition to the Fresno Housing Authority project, Mayor Swearengin said Fresno First Steps Home reallocated $60,000 of corporate-sponsored funding to the Fresno Medical Respite Center for start-up costs. The center has been established to provide a safe environment where homeless individuals can stay to complete their recuperation after having been discharged from a hospital.

Mayor Swearengin said other efforts to address homelessness that are either under way or have already occurred include:

  • The recent opening of Renaissance at Trinity, a 20-unit complex for homeless people with mental health and medical issues. The complex is the first of three housing complexes for the homeless that the Housing Authority plans to open.
  • Closing of encampments south of Ventura along Santa Fe and Santa Clara from E to G and Monterey and Broadway is scheduled to occur by the end of November.

For more information on Fresno First Steps Home, please visit the website at www.fresnofirststepshome.org.

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