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Four nonprofits to get record amount of funding to help homeless

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Kane County will receive a record amount of funding this year to help its homeless population. The money follows a slight uptick in the number of homeless people in the Aurora, Elgin and surrounding areas in 2017 after four years of decline.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will give the county $1.77 million to distribute among agencies known as the Continuum of Care. The county keeps $159,000 for overseeing a database of homeless people and administering the money to agencies that provide direct services to the homeless.

Four nonprofit agencies will receive money:

• Ecker Center for Mental Health in Elgin will receive $645,858. The money will support three rental housing programs and supportive services for homeless individuals with mental illness. The county counted 76 people with severe mental illness among its homeless population in 2017.

• Hesed House in Aurora will receive $604,500 for programs involving rental housing and case management for the chronically homeless, as well as service designed to help achieve self-sufficiency within 24 months.

• Lazarus House in St. Charles gets $257,953 for three programs involving rental housing, case management and helping the homeless achieve self-sufficiency.

• Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton receives $98,138 for its “Enduring Hope” program which provides housing and services for homeless veterans.

Scott Berger oversees the grants for the county. He said the $1.77 million will assist about 175 homeless people. The total is the largest ever received by the county’s continuum of care. The amount is also the largest percentage increase in funding among 20 continuums in the state.

“In a climate at the federal level where additional funding is not likely to be coming, we feel very fortunate about this award,” Berger said.

He said the county secured the grant money by partnering with the agencies which will receive the funds. That allowed for an attractive, unified plea for funding.

“You all sort of sink or swim together,” he said.

The 2017 point-in-time homeless count, which occurred a year ago, revealed the first increase in the homeless population in four years.

In 2013, the count, which occurs on a single night, showed 451 homeless people. The total dropped each subsequent year, hitting a low of 355 homeless people in 2016. The number inched to 360 homeless in 2017, according to the HUD Continuum of Care Homeless Population Report for Illinois during those years.

Of the 360, the count revealed 98 people suffering from substance abuse problems, 46 people fleeing from domestic violence and 21 military veterans.

The state of counted 10,798 homeless people in 2017.

A formal announcement on the grants will be made at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Elgin City Hall, 150 Dexter Court, according to Gina Rodriguez of HUD’s Public Affairs Office.

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