Butler County to receive money to help mentally ill who are homeless

The Butler County commissioners will again spend almost $500,000 of HUD money to house the homeless who also have mental health issues.

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There are three grants from the federal Housing and Urban Development agency totalling $493,375 that pay for rent and treatment for 70 homeless people in Butler County.

Mindy Muller, who runs the program for the county, said the program is not just a hand out, because recipients work to pay a portion of the rent.

“If there are cases where people work, 30 percent of their adjusted income is what they pay toward rent,” Muller said. “The balance is picked up by the HUD funds, so that’s how we’ve been able to stretch, we’re serving more people than what we’re given vouchers for.”

The program has been around for eight years. HUD requires an inventory of homeless people, the count here in January was 133, the same as last year but down from 257 previously counted. The snapshot taken on Jan. 24 showed 125 people were in emergency shelters, eight were in transitional living and there were 13 families counted.

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Community Development Manager Desmond Maaytah said the program is designed to provide permanent homes for people, but there is a little bit of turnover.

“If they have a portion of their rent they’re paying they could theoretically get kicked out or if they get back in trouble, or somewhere else or in jail, then there is some turnover,” he said. “Generally if they are following all the rules you can stay in the program.”

If there are vacancies Muller said the various members of the homeless coalition will recommend clients who are suitable for the program.

Muller said they are required to find suitable apartments that are “descent, safe and sanitary” and meet HUD’s affordability standards. She said the apartments usually run about $500 a month for a one bedroom.

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Statewide homeless numbers are on the rise. Muller said the “point-in-time” count for this year was 2,686 people which is a four percent increase over 2016. The state also reported the number of unsheltered homeless rose 40 percent to 623 this year. Muller said the state is also reporting a 23 percent decrease in homeless veterans at 160.

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