$67,130 to be used for emergency shelter beds
The Sarasota County Commission has approved a new contract with the Salvation Army in Sarasota to provide emergency shelter beds for homeless individuals and to assist clients with emergency rental and utilities payments.
The agreement was part of the board’s Consent Agenda of routine business items on May 10. No commissioner commented on it, which is typical of board votes on the Consent Agenda.
A county staff memo explained that, each year, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) allocates funds through the federal Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG) for use in Sarasota County. The commissioners have approved CSBG agreements annually since 1999, the memo added.
On Dec. 9, 2021, the memo continued, county staff received notification that the Fiscal Year 2021 grant award would be $198,995. Out of those funds, $193,302 would be provided to the Salvation Army for services, the memo said. The remaining $5,693 “will be retained by the County to cover administrative costs associated [with the DEO’s required data system licenses and workforce board cost-sharing],” the memo pointed out.
On May 13, 2021 and Dec. 2, 2021, the memo continued, the county’s Community Action Agency Board (CAAB) discussed how best to put the FY 2021 grant to use, the memo added. The board members ultimately recommended continued funding for emergency shelter beds that could be used by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) members, who work to encourage individuals to seek housing. Further, the CAAB agreed that part of the grant money should go toward prevention of homelessness and “self-sufficiency services throughout the county.” Among the latter, the memo noted, are rent/mortgage assistance, water utility assistance, employment services, and short-term childcare assistance.
A chart attached to the agreement with the Salvation Army shows that seven HOT beds will be made available to homeless clients at a cost of $35 per day for 274 days, at a total of $67,130.
In June 2020, when the commissioners approved an amended agreement with the Salvation Army, as a result of receiving extra funding through the CSBG Program, the county paid for 8.5 beds. Gradually, over the years, the number of beds has been reduced, county documents show.
Among other information in the new contract, emergency rental assistance available for seven clients, at $3,000 per household, will take $21,000 of the latest grant funds, while $5,000 will be allocated to helping 10 clients with emergency water utility assistance.
Further, $31,000 will go toward rental or mortgage aid to eight self-sufficient clients. Each person will get $500 a month for 7.75 months, the chart shows.
Another $15,000 will be used to help with rent or mortgages for 50 clients who are “exiting substance abuse treatment,” the chart notes.
The childcare funding, which totals $4,000, will be allocated to eight self-sufficient clients, with each receiving $500, the chart adds.
Additionally, $4,000 will be used to assist eight self-sufficient clients “obtain skills or competencies required for employment,” with the funds to cover tuition, registration, and the purchase of textbooks, electronic materials, manuals “and resources excluding devices,” the chart says.
Other portions of the grant funds will help cover the salaries of two case workers and a program manager, the chart points out.