Victorville creates $ 2 million program to help fund homeless shelters hampered by pandemic

A new $ 2 million program designed to provide financial assistance to Victorville shelters and other nonprofits that provide housing for the homeless could begin as early as this week.

The American Rescue Plan Act Homeless Shelter and Housing Services Recovery program – approved by Victorville city council on Tuesday – would grant up to $ 100,000 per request.

Nonprofits could file multiple claims to cover eligible expenses if they can prove that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in lost income, according to city staff.

“I’m very happy to see the way we are using ARPA funds,” Pro Mayor Tem Leslie Irving said at Tuesday’s meeting. “For me, that’s good.”

City officials said the program was the third time Victorville has used federal funds made available after the $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill was signed in March.

The law provided $ 350 billion to state and local governments to help with economic recovery from the pandemic.

The largest city in the High Desert received $ 33.5 million, with the first portion of around $ 16.7 million received in June, city analyst Tony Camargo said. The next installment is expected to arrive the same month in 2022.

Using ARPA dollars, Victorville purchased three new fire trucks last month to replace aging vehicles in its fleet.

In July, city council voted to allocate $ 2 million from the ARPA allocation to help residents with overdue utility bills and, if they are eligible, to zero their balances.

Staff said the program has been a success and has helped nearly 2,000 residents of Victorville, an achievement they hope to replicate with the current nonprofit program.

Shelters facing “financial challenges”

Casey prepares to haul her bag of cans to a recycling center after speaking to volunteers during the one-off count in Old Town Victorville in January 2019.

Homelessness has become a seemingly intractable problem that the city has faced for several years.

In 2020, Victorville had the second highest homeless population – 451 people – of any city in San Bernardino County for the third year in a row, according to data collected during the federally mandated one-time tally.

A year earlier, a Homeless Solutions Task Force was formed whose members offered a 24/7 shelter with on-site services to help people get off the streets.

The 168-bed wellness and recuperative care center – slated to be the largest shelter in the High Desert and that authorities want to build near Eva Dell Park – has, however, encountered funding problems and a major source of funding. for the project remains uncertain.

A spokesperson for Victorville told the Daily Press in February that the city plans to apply for a second round of funding for Project Homekey, the public program to expand housing for the homeless.

According to the state, around $ 1.4 billion in Homekey grants will be made available to public entities and applications are expected to be available by the end of September.

Meanwhile, nonprofits house most of the city’s homeless and they are “facing financial challenges” due to COVID-19, city officials said in a report.

As an example, Jimmy Waldron, executive director of High Desert Homeless Services, told city staff that his organization was unable to fundraise in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions and resorted to recourse to other measures to stay afloat.

A bird's-eye view of the Victorville Wellness and Recuperative Care Center, a 168-bed temporary accommodation facility proposed for construction near Eva Dell Park.

At one point, the organization managed its main shelter and an emergency shelter at the Victorville Transportation Center. The latter shelter then moved to the Westwinds Sports Center on the grounds of George’s former Air Force Base and another nonprofit then took over operations.

“The additional requirements needed to meet COVID-19 safety and operating guidelines and operate the two shelters have increased HDHS operating expenses and depleted available resources,” a city report said.

As a result, Waldron said the nonprofit needs to secure a line of credit to cover expenses, join a coalition of other nonprofits to have a better chance of receiving grants, and plans to reopen a business. thrift store in the old town of Victorville.

Eligible nonprofits applying for the city’s program could use the money for rent, lease and mortgage payments, utilities, payroll, benefit costs, equipment personal protection and other expenses “which arise in the ordinary course of operations”, according to a sample request. .

Nonprofits would also be required to provide financial reports demonstrating continued financial need due to the pandemic and to write a closing report indicating that the funds were used for authorized purposes.

Camargo, the city analyst, said the program is scheduled to start on Friday, October 1, with applications being accepted through the Victorville website.

The first round of applications will be accepted until November 30. Camargo said the following rounds may be added depending on the number of applications received.

Daily Press reporter Martin Estacio can be contacted at 760-955-5358 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_mestacio.


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