Monongalia County homeless prevention.

Monongalia County renters and homeowners that are struggling to keep up with their housing needs can apply for a government funded homeless prevention program. The assistance is available in the community as a result of federal as well as state government funds from the Emergency Solutions Grant Program. There are several non-profits that are involved in the administration of ESG, including Caritas House, the Salvation Army and the United Way.

The money is available in Morgantown as well as Monongalia County for a number of needs. It all revolves around housing though. The HUD grants are used to both stop eviction and foreclosures as well. It does not matter if the reason for the crisis is due to unpaid property taxes, rent, or utility bills. Funding can be used to help stop homelessness of low income families by assisting with any arrears on rent or utility bills, including water.

Re-housing services – Much of this is directed by homeless shelters in Monongalia County. Two of the leading organizations that are involved include Caritas House as well as nearby Bartlett House. Each year these (and other groups) may be allocated funds to help get the homeless re-acclimated into the region.

The assistance is administered in many forms. Emergency Solution Grants can pay for the operation of an emergency shelter or provide free motel vouchers to those in a crisis. Other money, or even loans, may help pay for security deposits. There is a focus on placing children as well as single moms from Monongalia County into short term housing.

Rapid Rehousing in Morgantown is also available for substance abusers, the large number of college students, as well as women fleeing from domestic violence. This resource serves as a short term stepping stone. They are intended to fill the gap and allow the client time to gain the skills (and an income) so they can move into more stable, permanent housing.

Homeless Prevention programs – This is always the goal of the non-profits as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development. ESG is targeted at keeping people in their current home or apartment. When someone is evicted or loses their home to a tax sale, it can be very challenging to rehouse them. Many private landlords will not want to release to a tenant with a history of evictions. And HUD housing programs, such as Section 8 vouchers, have very long waiting lists in place.





The financial cost to reverse homelessness is also much higher. Studies show that in Monongalia County, it costs over $2,000 to help the person develop the skills they need, shelter and feed them, and then to get them into a new apartment. Therefore homeless prevention is both cheaper for the non-profits, and of course it is also much better for the family to keep them off the streets.

Assistance to stop homelessness is wide ranging. Most of the mortgage or property tax assistance will come from counseling. There are non-profit HUD counseling agencies in Morgantown West Virginia that specialize in helping homeowners. They may help them modify an existing home loan or work out a payment plan for real estate taxes with the local assessor. Other solutions are explored, and find additional resources for real estate tax help.

Tenants threatened by homelessness tend (such as an eviction letter from their landlord) to have more options available to them. Emergency Solution Grants are more likely to be provided to them for short term rent or energy bill needs. One reason a tenant in Monongalia County may be more likely to get help is the cost involved for a rent payment is usually less then for a mortgage.

Two of the administering agencies in Caritas House as well as the community action agency in Morgantown. These non-profits will often have information on eviction prevention programs and can help clients with the application process. The homeless prevention services are holistic in nature, meaning that any grants will be combined with food, medical care, legal aid, and more.

For more information, call the Salvation Army at (304) 296-3525 or Caritas at (304) 985-0021, which mostly operates shelters.



By Jon McNamara

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