ST. PETERSBURG — With the help of city grants, groups like Boley Centers can help homeless people get off the street.
St. Petersburg is offering $338,000 in grants the next budget year for local nonprofits to help the homeless.
Miriam Williams, the chief executive officer at Boley Centers, said it was able to hire a case manager with a $25,000 grant this year. As a result, about 35 people have received help getting benefits and finding places to live.
"It's hard for people to know where to go for help," she said. "This person really helps simplify the process for people who might otherwise not have the capacity."
Boley Centers, which spans Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Sarasota counties, helps the homeless and people with mental illnesses get treatment and housing.
Programs that directly affect the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless are of higher priority this year, said Rhonda Abbott, the city's manager of social services planning. "People have, especially now with the recession, a lot of needs," she said. "A lot of people are looking for assistance."
New for the year, social services is limiting the grant amounts. Grants of at least $10,000 and no more than $40,000 are allowed. Nonprofits can apply for funding for multiple programs, as long as the total doesn't exceed $40,000.
"Last year we received an application for $115,000," Abbott said. "This way, agencies will have a fairer chance at getting part of the dollar."
Twenty-six organizations received grants last year. The money must be used for programs within St. Petersburg.
The Pinellas Opportunity Council received more than $48,000 last year, said director Fred Zecker.
Three programs, including housework for the elderly and emergency assistance for low-income residents, were funded through the grants.
"They're happy to get the assistance of course," Zecker said. "In most cases, it at least prevents utility cutoffs."
Programs seeking matching funds for federal grants will also be given higher priority, Abbott said.
Grant proposals are due Aug. 4 by 4 p.m. Awards will be made Oct. 1.
Jackie Alexander can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.