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UWKC seeks to make up funds cut by federal government

Posted: July 21, 2016 5:57 p.m.
Updated: July 22, 2016 1:00 a.m.

The United Way of Kershaw County (UWKC) is seeking financial support from the community after having one of its transitional housing programs, New Day on Mill, defunded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The cut in funds also affected similar housing programs in Aiken and Orangeburg Counties and has affected funding of other UWKC programs.

HUD’s funding, which provided approximately $70,000 annually to New Day on Mill, was discontinued on May 2. UWKC President Donny Supplee says New Day on Mill’s staff has been reduced to part time and one men’s transitional shelter was closed after its residents moved into permanent housing. Though the men’s shelter was not funded by HUD, Supplee says closing it will free up needed funds.

The financial cuts were a result of stricter fund eligibility guidelines requiring organizations to move towards offering permanent housing.

“For several years, HUD has been saying they want to move more to permanent housing funding rather than transitional housing funding. For that same number of years, rural communities like ours, Aiken and Orangeburg have said what our community really needs is transitional housing,” Supplee said, adding that while they were expecting a decrease in the amount of money allotted, they were not expecting to be completely cut. 

Supplee says urban and rural communities tend to have different needs and issues when it comes to serving their homeless populations. 

Transitional housing provides residents with housing until they are ideally moved into permanent housing. During the transitional time period, residents gain skills needed to successively maintain a household to lessen the chances of becoming homeless again.

For example, New Day on Mill has housed 73 families since its opening in 2008. Of those families, 68 moved into permanent housing within the community and 83% of the families increased their financial resources and income.

“We take folks in need financially or in need of services to serve them in a way that will get them back on their feet, help them get skills they need, then move them on to permanent housing.  That’s the model we feel works best for our community. We considered the permanent housing option but determined that was not what our community needed,” Supplee said

In contrast, urban areas tend to focus on providing permanent housing rather than using the transition method.

“The other strategy HUD has made was to do rapid re-housing: the idea being that what people need if they are homeless is a home first. We don’t disagree completely with that but … we are about helping people change their lives. We feel rules and regulations are important and if folks break those, they will have to move on because we don’t want to discourage the improvement of others who are trying to change their lives,” Supplee said.

However Supplee says there is a time and place for emergency services.

“People are important. We don’t think because someone is suffering from mental illness, they deserve to be out on the street. There is absolutely a place for serving folks in emergency situations; they may need a place to stay the night regardless of their issues.”

The fund cuts also affected other UWKC programs; specifically the mentoring, housing initiative, food bank and transportation programs.

“This is the situation we find ourselves in now. We have to raise more money. We have a variety of things pulling at us that need funding,”

“That includes the mentoring program… our transportation program. Even though these are volunteer led programs they still have expenditures. (For example) The van to transport people needs gas and maintenance … So there is always a financial need. We have a need of about an additional $100,000 this year to maintain the housing initiative, transportation, mentoring and food bank.” Supplee said.

Supplee says he is grateful for funds allocated by local government and remains hopeful that the remaining money needed will be raised.

“We need to survive this year but we need to sustain. We’ve got to find ongoing sources that can help us. For example, churches giving to us on a monthly basis, individuals giving on a monthly basis would be awesome,”

“We have a real giving community but there is still a huge potential … If some people want to give specifically, we have specific needs. My main thing is to provide services to people who need it. That’s where my motivation is. I know that if we raise it we can do some really good things.”

 

For information on how to donate or assist the UWKC, call 432-0951 or visit uwkc.net. 

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