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Home4Good funding helps Monroe, three other counties

Published March 09. 2019 06:58AM


United Way of Monroe County and Pocono Alliance just launched a new program to prevent homelessness.

“The Home4Good program is one of the first things we worked on together as we began exploring a merger between our agencies,” said Michael Albert, president and CEO of United Way of Monroe County.

Home4Good grant money will bring $100,000 into Monroe, Carbon, Pike and Wayne counties.

This funding — along with funds that United Way secured from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund — comes from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency in Harrisburg.

“Both programs help those that are at risk of becoming homeless,” he said.

Each county will have one agency handling the case management and distribution of the funds, he said.

They are: Family Promise of Monroe County in Stroudsburg; Carbon County Community Action Committee in Lehighton; Safe Haven of Pike County in Milford; and the Wayne County Human Services in Honesdale.

“These agencies will work with individuals and families, and build relationships with landlords,” he said. “This is a flexible, community fund to keep people in their homes.”

Recipients of funding might be able to use it to pay the first and last month’s rent in order to maintain current housing or obtain new housing.

“It could also help pay for other financial expenses that, without the support, might lead to homelessness, including security deposits, utility assistance or transportation,” he said.

Residents will be eligible for the Home4Good funding based on income and prioritized based on vulnerability.

The first step is to call 211 to access the coordinated entry system, which was launched in January 2018.

After a quick screening with a person regarding their vulnerability and needs, they will find out which services they are eligible for, he said.

In the past month, 36 people were screened through this system from Monroe County. Twenty-two were placed on a community queue to access federally funded housing programs. Two of the 36 came from the West End. Albert was unsure if they were screened and placed on the community queue, or just screened.

If not eligible for federal programs, callers may be eligible for the Home4Good program. If enrolled, case managers in each county will help them identify the best way to keep them in their homes, and work with them to get their finances in order so that the program can lead to long term outcomes.

United Way of Monroe County and Pocono Alliance have been working together for a long time and will unite their staffs and resources in April. They announced the merger in early February.

“United Way brings people and organizations together to work on complex community problems, such as homelessness. The agency focuses on problems that cannot be solved by any single agency alone,” he said.

Pocono Alliance connects residents in need with helpful local resources and runs several programs focused on financial stability and poverty reduction.

Michael Tukeva is the current executive director of Pocono Alliance and will transition to become the new president and CEO of the new combined organization: Pocono Mountains United Way.

“The merger focuses on strengthening impact and building efficiencies. We have a shared vision to move the needle on poverty, financial instability, hunger and homelessness. Pocono Mountains United Way will leverage more resources from outside the county to increase the impact locally,” Tukeva said.

Albert will resign from United Way on April 1, become a transition consultant for a short time, and then continue serving, but as a community volunteer.

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