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Hernando agency's new homeless shelter won't receive federal grant

BROOKSVILLE — Shrinking amounts of federal funding have cost a local agency its chance to significantly help homeless men and women in Hernando County.

Jericho Road Ministries recently learned that its application for a $400,000 Homeless Housing Assistance grant intended to build a new shelter has not been funded.

While the federal program administered by the state initially looked favorably on the local application last fall, the pool of money was cut, limiting the number of projects that received a grant, explained Jericho executive director Pastor Bruce Gimbel.

In the previous year's program, the allocation fed 10 projects throughout Florida. This year, Jericho Road's application ranked ninth, so hopes were high. But in the end, only five applications received money, Gimbel said.

Jericho Road will resubmit its application for an HHA grant in August for the next fiscal year, he added.

Jericho has proposed construction of a 16-bedroom 48-bed dormitory addition to its current women's shelter at 1163 Howell Ave. It would help to accommodate a waiting list of homeless men.

Women would be moved to the smaller shelter on Mondon Hill Road, which is now used to house homeless men.

Added to the Howell Avenue facility would be a commercial kitchen, dining room, laundry, bathroom and storage.

Late last year, the County Commission granted a zoning variation for the expansion even though the Planning and Zoning Commission earlier had denied the change and some neighbors objected.

County commissioners pointed out the growing need for housing for the county's homeless, Jericho's success in rehabilitating those with societal problems, and the organization's contributions to the community at large.

Regardless of the grant turn-down, Gimbel said the ministries will persevere.

"We'll continue to move forward with engineering drawings, which will take several months, and we'll look for other grants,'' he said. "We may get little pieces."

Also, Gimbel said it will look at saving on operating expenses, both at its shelters and its three thrift shops, which support much of the organization's annual budget of $300,000 to $400,000.

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Hernando agency's new homeless shelter won't receive federal grant 02/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 18, 2011 7:59pm]
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