3 On Your Side - Critical grant money has been slow-moving - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side - Critical grant money has been slow-moving

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By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Salvation Army hired Barbara Tarter to direct their shelter, called Center of Hope. Also, to assist families in danger of losing their homes through a program called "Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing."

But she's been helping with light duties as well to fill time. A federal grant is supposed to fund half of her position. But the Salvation Army says the funneling of that stimulus cash has been slow. Right now, when Tarter helps a family with housing funds, the Salvation Army has to submit a request for reimbursement to the Mississippi Development Authority.

"It's kind of like a reimbursement, we handle their payments and then submit for a cash request, is what it's called," Tarter says.

But the biggest issue, according to the Salvation Army's Area Coordinator Captain Ken Chapman, is that families aren't getting the housing assistance as quickly as they should.

"We're a little frustrated we can't help as quickly as we'd like," Captain Chapman says.  "We've helped about three people with funds we did not have budgeted, out of our general operating budget, to help keep people in their homes."

At least two families have already been told they can't be helped right now.

"We said we have been waiting on money that could be made available that we don't have access to yet. Unfortunately, they can't wait," Chapman says.

A meeting was recently held at the State Capitol that included Chapman, the MDA, and Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, who's on the Salvation Army's advisory board.

"We've been trying to move that process forward. We've been given assurance from Steve Hardin with MDA, and he has been true to his word," Chapman says.

Through this grant, the Salvation Army alone could assist 50 families over a two-year time span.

The MDA responds by saying, "The Mississippi Development Authority is enthusiastic about administering the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program with the federal funds the agency received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to combat homelessness in Mississippi. We are pleased to be working with Partners to End Homelessness and two other Continuums of Care, along with the organizations with which these entities are partnering, to administer this program.  

The Salvation Army is one of the five organizations working with Partners to End Homelessness on this program. MDA has received one cash request from the Salvation Army via Partners to End Homelessness, to date, and that cash request has been paid.  At this time, we have not received any other cash requests from the Salvation Army."

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