11 new places to stay for Monroe County’s homeless
Catholic Social Services is trying to get Monroe County’s approval for 11 transitional housing units, in various locations throughout the county, to be available for homeless people by the end of this month.
“We’ve been working to help the homeless for more than 30 years,” said Diocesan Director Monsignor Joseph Kelly with the Scranton office of CSS, which covers Lackawanna, Monroe and nine other counties under the Scranton Diocese. “We identified a homeless problem in Monroe County long before the recent public interest there, and have been working with others in the community since then to address it.”
CSS and other partner agencies make up northeastern Pennsylvania’s Continuum of Care, a support network for the homeless. This network tries to provide whatever the homeless may need, such as temporary shelter, help with finding employment, medical care, transitional housing and affordable permanent housing.
Other Continuum of Care groups include the Stroud Township office of Family Promise, which helps homeless families, the Monroe County Homeless Initiative, which formed in May and runs a volunteer-staffed Day Center in Stroudsburg where the homeless can apply for jobs and forms of identification, and New Jersey-based Operation Chillout, which shares Day Center space and helps homeless veterans.
The East Stroudsburg Salvation Army shelter and various local churches also provide food and indoor sleeping spaces on cold nights.
“(The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) makes funding available that Continuum of Care agencies can apply for to help with whatever needs those agencies are trying to meet,” Kelly said.
CSS recently applied for a $110,000 grant to go toward rent for the 11 transitional housing units, said CSS Monroe County Housing Coordinator Mike Coyle.
“These would be units people can occupy while transitioning from being homeless to being able to afford permanent housing,” Coyle said. “We have eight other permanent supportive housing units in the county, all of which are occupied. We’ve been operating these eight other units for the past two years. Permanent supportive housing units have been replacing transitional housing units as the newer model.”
A CSS employee assesses homeless people coming into the Homeless Initiative Day Center on Stroudsburg’s Lower Main Street and, based on those assessments, refers each case to other agencies or community programs that can address that person’s needs, Coyle said.
HUD rules require a person or family to have been homeless three times within the past four years or to have been homeless for the past year or more in order to qualify for occupying one of CSS’ transitional units, Kelly said.
CSS has 62 permanent housing units in other counties under the Scranton Diocese.
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