Local programs receive federal housing grants

Noel Lyn Smith
Jonna Sharpe, executive director of People Assisting the Homeless, on Tuesday provides a tour of PATH's apartments in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Two programs that assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness in San Juan County are among those slated to receive grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

People Assisting the Homeless, or PATH, will receive $43,760 and San Juan County Partnership will receive a total of $252,396 from HUD's Continuum of Care Program.

Among the program's purposes are providing funding for nonprofit providers and helping individuals and families experiencing homelessness become more self sufficient, according to the housing department's website.

PATH Executive Director Jonna Sharpe said this is the first year the nonprofit received the grant, which will be awarded in July. She said 98 percent will go toward intensive case management.

"I'm very much looking forward to July," Sharpe said.

PATH operates a transitional housing complex, which has 12 one-bedroom apartments, next to its facility on Hydro Plant Road in Farmington.

The grant will allow PATH to reserve four apartments for individuals who are making a transition out of shelter or from living on the streets, Sharpe said.

Jonna Sharpe, executive director of People Assisting the Homeless, talks during an interview, Tuesday at PATH's apartments in Farmington.

She added the funding will help individuals pay a portion of rent or utilities for up to one year while they work toward obtaining permanent housing.

"That's the goal, to get them in permanent housing where they can become more stable," Sharpe said.

The longer an individual resides in transitional housing during the transition, the less likely they are to return to the cycle of homelessness, she added.

The remaining 2 percent of the HUD grant will be used to elevate PATH's case manager to full-time status, Sharpe said.

San Juan County Partnership received the grant in previous years, which it uses to provide housing assistance in the county.

"We're very happy to have it renewed because there definitely is a need in our area," partnership Executive Director Pamela Drake said.

Angelina Martin, client coordinator for San Juan County Partnership Housing Assistance for the Homeless, said the grant will be used to assist qualified individuals with rent, security deposits for residential leases, utility payments and deposits for utility services.

In order for families to qualify, the head of household must have experienced chronic homelessness and have a disability, Martin said.

She added the definition for chronic homelessness is experiencing four episodes of homelessness in the last three years or a year of continued homelessness.

Overall, programs in New Mexico received a total of $10.9 million from the HUD grant to help families, individuals and veterans, according to a Dec. 23 joint press release from U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich.

"The grants will help families and veterans across our state find a safe place to live, either in the form of rental assistance, supportive housing or temporary shelters," Udall said in the release.

Heinrich said in the release that stable housing is the foundation for economic security.

"I am proud of the important work these local organizations do every day to connect youth, families and veterans experiencing homelessness with emergency shelter, lifesaving services and pathways toward economic stability and permanent housing," Heinrich said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

Jonna Sharpe, executive director of People Assisting the Homeless, on Tuesday talks about their family housing units in one of PATH's  apartments in Farmington.