$2.2 million grant is given to end youth homelessness in Lincoln

Lincoln has received a grant to help offer more low-income housing in the city. 
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Lincoln has received a grant to help offer more low-income housing in the city.

Hasani Collins is a teen who was homeless for a year, he moved from Omaha to Lincoln for a more positive environment, getting away from gang violence.

“It was more or less like being alone. You know, feeling like there was no point and to keep going. You know, I’m surprised I’ve made it this far. Like I got out of the situation. But like, I think it was more of a mental strain than anything.”

He says he stayed with friends, and even slept in parks until he received help from Cedars.

“At first, I was on my godmother, and I couldn’t stay there. So I was living with friends. And then I like I remember sleeping like a car for like a month or two and then bouncing from place to place. But then eventually, like, I’d go to sleep in parks and stuff like that and then my friend ultimately helped me out.”

Now Lincoln has received a grant to help offer more low-income housing in the city.
Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $2.2 million to Lincoln’s Youth Homeless Demonstration Program. The program will support a wide range of housing and supportive services specifically designed to assist young people of the community.

She says 2,600 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 have experienced a homeless episode over the last two years.
476 specifically this last year.
The mayor hopes this grant will help curb that number even more.

“During the pandemic, our community has worked together to address the growing needs of our residents and provide them with assistance,” Mayor Gaylor Baird said. “This $2.2 million HUD grant gives us another tool that will help Lincoln reach its goal to end homelessness for everyone in our community, including our youth.”

The mayor did add there has been a 55 percent decline in homelessness in Lincoln since 2015.
She hopes to continue that trend with this grant.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated nearly every crisis in our society, including the crisis of youth homelessness,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Our society is judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us.”

“Very few places in the U.S. possess the right balance of intellectual capital, collaborative social services networks, caring spirit, and political will to lead and make substantive progress on complex societal issues,” Early (Earl) Redrick, Field Office Director for HUD in Omaha, said.

“Lincoln, Nebraska is one such place. It’s viewed as a leader in the space of homeless services, and I have consistently raved about the leadership, creativity, and collaborative spirit of our housing and homeless services partners in Lincoln.”

Lincoln’s program is one of just 22 urban Continuum of Care programs in the nation to receive the competitive grant.
The grant funding is specifically for a two-year demonstration project. After that, part of the annual HUD funding received by the city will be used to continue to meet the needs of youth ages 24 and under experiencing homelessness.

“There’s not enough awareness about it. Like in schools, if the like that, like a lot of kids feel embarrassing. That’s how I felt to even speak up about it. Like, I hid it for so long. Not many people know, people that know me, it’s like, they would never guess,” said Collins.
He calls for more role models for young teens.

Mayor Gaylor Baird said Lincoln has already effectively addressed several systematic challenges to improve the lives and outcomes of those members in our community who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness:  

  • The Point in Time count conducted by the Lincoln Continuum of Care shows that since 2015, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Lincoln has dropped by 55%. 
  • The Point in Time count also shows that Lincoln has reduced homelessness among military veterans by 73%. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has recognized Lincoln as one of a select number of communities that have effectively ended veteran homelessness by making it rare, of short duration, and non-recurring.    
  • The Lincoln Commission on Human Rights partnered with the City’s legal community to create the Tenant Assistance Project to provide free legal advice and representation to those in our community who are facing eviction. Over the past year, volunteer attorneys have provided legal assistance to 560 households, with a 98% success rate at preventing immediate eviction.   
  • The City has used other federal funds to hire a Housing Rights Coordinator.  
  • Long-term, the City’s affordable housing initiative has set an ambitious goal to provide 5,000 new or rehabilitated affordable housing units by the year 2030.  
  • The City has provided over $12 million in rent and utility assistance to those affected by the pandemic to prevent eviction and homelessness. 
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