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Grant will help with homeless shelter

December 16, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County Behavioral Health System has received about $750,000 for the continued operations of a homeless shelter and for the construction of a second building to house the homeless.

Lisa Ward, Jefferson Behavioral Health Services community support program administrator, said the agency recently was informed the Ohio Development Services Agency has provided $270,300 for the continued operation of the Beacon House at 732 N. Sixth St.

The Beacon House, which has 10 single room and opened in 2006, provides a variety of services to homeless people, including mental health and drug and alcohol treatment, job seeking and availability of a variety of community services. The Beacon House also offers a drop-in center, where homeless people can go for a hot shower or to wash clothes and find out about services available to provide help.

Ward said the Ohio Development Services Agency recently completed an audit of services provided by the Beacon House and found that 88 percent of those served stayed with the program for seven months or longer.

"It is nice for the state to see we are meeting the standards and providing a benefit to the community," Ward said.

Ward said the operational grant is competitively applied for every two years. She said the funding of the Beacon House so far hasn't been affected by state budget cuts.

Ward also is in the process of applying for an annual federal Housing and Urban Development grant that will provide $256,545 in operating money and $81,200 for supportive services for the Beacon House.

Ward said the Beacon House wouldn't be able to provide services without the two operating grants.

She said 18 people have been residents of the Beacon House during the past year. She noted a person recently came to the homeless shelter after discovering her rent was tripled. The landlord said he could get more money in rent from the oil and gas industry workers.

Ward said the problem of homelessness is growing in Jefferson County.

Social workers will conduct the annual homeless count in January, and she expects an increase. Ward said other homeless shelters, such as the City Rescue Mission and Hutton House, are constantly full.

Jefferson Behavioral Health also recently received word the agency was approved by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati for partial financing for construction of the Lighthouse Haven, which will be constructed in the 400 block of North Sixth Street. Lighthouse Haven will have eight efficiency apartments for single persons and four family units.

Ward said there is a strain on local resources to find housing for families.

The Federal Home Loan Bank will provide $498,000 for the $1.7 million project. The Ohio Department of Mental Health has committed $500,000 and the remainder will come from the Ohio Housing Financing Agency. Ward said Jefferson Behavioral Health will only have to pay the interest owed on the Federal Home Loan Bank financing.

Ward said Jefferson Behavioral Health's application ranked in the top 10 in the state for the Federal Home Loan Bank funding of homeless shelter projects throughout the state.

Ward said ground will be broken on the Lighthouse Haven in late summer or early fall.

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