Sarasota County to seek national grant to help with services for the homeless

In a ‘hugely competitive’ application process, the county probably will seek the maximum award of $800,000 per year for three years

Image from the Partnership's website
Image from the Partnership’s website

The Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness this week endorsed the efforts of Sarasota County staff in applying for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant that could provide up to $800,000 per year for three years to provide additional services to homeless individuals, veterans, families and youth.

The consensus was unanimous on Feb. 24 during the regular Continuum of Care meeting, which involves representatives of agencies in Sarasota and Manatee counties that help the homeless. The Suncoast Partnership works with the Continuum of Care as part of its mission.

Nancy DeLoach, the homelessness and poverty policy coordinator for Sarasota County, sought the endorsement, explaining, “Basically, this grant is aimed at … services for the homeless that have mental health and substance abuse disorders.” The Continuum of Care’s support would help the county in its attempt to win funding, she pointed out.

If it is successful in obtaining a grant, she continued, the county will target the funding at chronically homeless individuals; homeless veterans whose discharge status makes them ineligible for other types of assistance specifically for veterans; and “unaccompanied youth.” Of the latter group, she said, “That’s a hugely underserved group of folks in our community.”

Regarding the grant amount the county would seek, DeLoach said, “We will probably be applying for close to the maximum, if not the maximum.”

Wayne Applebee is coordinator of Sarasota County's services to the homeless, and Nancy DeLoach is the coordinator of homelessness and poverty policy for the county. File photo
Wayne Applebee is coordinator of Sarasota County’s services to the homeless, and Nancy DeLoach is the coordinator of homelessness and poverty policy for the county. File photo

The funding cannot be used to pay for housing, she pointed out, but an applicant has to demonstrate that permanent supportive housing is available in its jurisdiction. The county can provide that documentation as a result of the work of CASL/Renaissance Manor and other services, including, perhaps, Harvest House, she noted.

The SAMHSA website also says the “funds may be used to provide services to eligible persons in the setting that is most appropriate for the client. This may include services to be delivered in the home (i.e., case management).”

If the county wins the funding, DeLoach continued, the money would be used to pay for an outreach specialist, case management efforts, peer support initiatives and behavioral health assistance. Among the organizations seen as primary partners in those undertakings would be First Step, Coastal Behavioral Healthcare Inc., Jewish Family & Children’s Service of the Suncoast Inc., Harvest House, CASL/Renaissance Manor, the Sarasota YMCA, the Suncoast Partnership and the City and County of Sarasota.

The Central Florida Behavioral Health Network already has endorsed the county’s effort, DeLoach said before asking for the Continuum of Care’s support.

Continuum of Care members gather for the Feb. 24 meeting at New College. Rachel Hackney photo
Continuum of Care members gather for the Feb. 24 meeting at New College. Rachel Hackney photo

“It’s hugely competitive,” she added of the application process, with only 30 grant awards available nationwide. The application is due March 15, she said. “We are going to give it our best shot.”

According to the SAMHSA website, no matching funds are required from the grant recipients. The total amount of money available to be awarded is $19,576,000, the website adds.

“It’s a good project for our county and our homeless citizens,” Leslie Loveless, executive director of the Suncoast Partnership, said after a chorus of “yeses” greeted Loveless’ question about the endorsement.

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