County Seeks Congressman’s Assistance to Fight Homelessness

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imperial county logoEL CENTRO — In a continued effort to fight homelessness in Imperial County and boost infrastructure projects, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to sign a letter addressed to Congressman Juan Vargas requesting that he urge the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to revise its Continuum of Care (CoC) Funding Formula.

On July 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing Development (HUD) published a “Solicitation of Comment on their current “Continuum of Care Formula” (CoC) in order to streamline the funding application process, encourage coordination of housing and service providers on a local level, and promote the development of the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program.

Immediately after, Congressman Juan Vargas’ office requested that members of the Imperial Valley Homeless Task Force, including the county of Imperial, provide him with letters expressing their support to change the CoC Formula that determines how federal homelessness funding is allocated.

“Currently, the Imperial County Continuum of Care, aka the Homeless Task Force, feels that it is important to change the formula as the current one is not reflective of the actual rates of homelessness in Imperial County and there is a large disparity of funding between the smaller and larger CoCs,” explained Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter, public information officer for Imperial County. “The deadline to submit comments to Congressman Juan Vargas’ office is September 23.”

A CoC is a regional or local planning body that provides a strategic approach to coordinate housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals that re-appropriate to their needs. CoCs represent communities of all kinds, including major cities, suburbs and rural areas.

The Imperial County CoC first started as the Imperial Valley Homeless Task Force more than ten years ago, which later formed the Imperial County CoC to be able to compete for CoC funds to provide services for the homeless community.

The Imperial County CoC is comprised of several public and private agencies including, but not limited to, Catholic Charities, Neighborhood House of Calexico, WomanHaven, Imperial County Office of Education, Imperial Valley Housing Authority and the County of Imperial.

HUD uses the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) formula to determine Preliminary Pro Rate Need (PPRN), which is then compared to a CoC’s Annual Renewal Demand (ARD) and the higher number is funded.

“The last fiscal year, Imperial County Continuum of Care received 33 percent of funding that they needed to address the homelessness issues in our community,” said Baxter.

For rural communities like Imperial County, the formula is not reflective of actual rates of homelessness and there is a large disparity of funding between small and large CoC’s, she explained.