Housing agency eyes more aid for families with schoolchildren

The Grand Junction Housing Authority is applying for funding to continue a program that assists homeless families, but for the second time in a row, fewer people will receive help paying their rent.

Launched in 2006, the Next Step Housing Program provides transitional housing for homeless families with children enrolled in School District 51 schools. The program also offers case management and in-home tutoring.

Lori Rosendahl, director of operations for the Housing Authority, said the program is intended to help stabilize families and ensure children remain in one school, rather than skipping from school to school as their families try to find a place to live. The latter scenario often results in lower grades, she said.

“It’s really hard to do your homework when you don’t have a place to live,” she said.

Rosendahl emphasized the program isn’t a handout, noting parents are required to work, complete housing-counseling classes and allocate a certain percentage of their income toward rent in order to be eligible.

“This is a tough program. We ask a lot of our families,” she said.

Rosendahl said the agency received enough money through the Colorado Division of Housing to help 50 families during the first two funding periods — 2006 and 2008. But in 2010, funding slipped to a level where only 30 families could be helped. That will continue this year, she said.

The Housing Authority will apply for $600,000 from the state to help families pay for rent and security deposits. A public hearing on the grant application will take place at 11 a.m. Friday at the Housing Authority’s office, 1011 North 10th St.


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