EBENSBURG - Social services programs are hopeful Cambria County will be awarded a $450,000 federal grant to help the homeless ahead of the winter months.
The grant, part of the 2012 Emergency Solutions Grant Program, must be matched dollar-for-dollar at the local level, Cambria County Redevelopment Director Larry Custer said.
On Thursday, Custer told county commissioners his office had secured the matching funds, and the board gave him approval to apply for the grant.
The matching funds include $65,000 through the county's affordable housing trust fund and monies from the Community Action Partnership of Cambria County and various shelters.
Custer said the county should know by the end of October if it receives the grant.
"They would expect us to start doing things in November and December," Custer said. "Payments could start immediately after the awards are announced by the state."
The grant money will be used over the next 22 months to fund programs for the homeless, homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing, Custer said.
The money will provide financial assistance to two agencies in Johnstown - the Women's Help Center and Golden 2 Shelter, he said.
If approved, the county's Human Services department will oversee the program, with case management handled by the Community Action Partnership of Cambria County.
Existing programs have already helped about 100 families in need of emergency shelter in the past 22 months, Custer said. An additional 50 families received help through homelessness prevention programs, and about 30 individuals have been helped through rapid rehousing efforts, he said.
Community Action Partnership Resource Director Marlene Kough said those numbers are expected to increase.
She said about 80 percent of those helped through the partnership still fall below lower median income guidelines and would be eligible for assistance.
The partnership focuses on homelessness prevention on a case-by-case basis, she said. Families receive rent check assistance and are encouraged to apply what they save toward education and other payments.
"The long-term focus is actually to encourage them to get further training or improve their job searching skills," Kough said.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.