Housing programs get a boost

Housing programs get a boost

The new Ain Dah Yung Center on St. Paul’s University Avenue, a 42- unit supportive housing community that offers mental health counseling and other services for young people who may need help, was the setting for an announcement in November. Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development joined Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and community housing leaders to announce nearly $5.4 million in competitive grants for housing voucher programs across Minnesota.

The rent subsidies, targeted to non-elderly individuals and families struggling with trauma and disability, are expected to help more than 590 recipients lease housing in the private market, including 96 families across St. Paul and Ramsey County.

“I am standing here today as your lieutenant governor because of a Section 8 housing voucher that my family received as I was growing up in St. Louis Park,” Flanagan said. “Our administration knows that everything starts with a home.”

Much like traditional Section 8 housing vouchers, the Mainstream Housing Choice disability vouchers are administered by public housing officials across the state.

The largest grants will go to programs run by the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Metropolitan Council housing authorities. The three agencies received a smaller competitive grant award for disability housing a year ago.

Typically, a low-income client pays 30 percent of their income toward rent and the federal housing voucher makes up the difference.

“It is a big boost because these opportunities don’t come every year,” said Kyle Hanson, managing director of Housing Choice Vouchers for the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. Hanson said the $1.6 million award will allow them to house 140 clients hand in hand with Hennepin County and the Minneapolis-based Salvation Army Harbor Light Center. A year ago, the Minneapolis PHA received enough funding to house 99 families.

Dominic Mitchell, program director with the St. Paul Public Housing Agency, said they will use the $687,000 from HUD to house 96 individuals and families referred by 10 nonprofit agencies, including Ain Dah Yung, The Arc Minnesota, Breaking Free, JustUs Health, Ethel Gordon Community Care Center, the Emma Norton Center, Guild Inc., Phoenix Service Inc., Minnesota One Stop and Experience Neshama. The nonprofits will help the clients locate housing and then provide supportive case management services for a year, with the intent of helping them achieve stability. The agency received enough HUD funding last year to help 35 disabled clients through the same voucher program.

In total, HUD is awarding $131.3 million to 325 local public housing authorities across the country to provide affordable housing to approximately 15,363 non-elderly individuals and families with disabilities.

(Source: Associated Press)