So far, no county funding for Office on Homelessness

In the past, the office was funded through reserve funds.


Published: Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 31, 2009 at 11:52 p.m.

As of now, the line-item allocation for Alachua County's portion of the joint Office on Homelessness is blank. Still, advocates are hopeful a last-minute allocation will keep the program intact.

Gainesville city commissioners, who last week funded their $36,000 contribution to the office, expressed concern about the lack of matching money from the county.

"I think it's a little bit early," said City Commissioner Craig Lowe. "It is a position that really pays off in terms of getting grants and in terms of actual assistance to people. I was pretty much shocked and disappointed."

In past years, Alachua County has not provided funding for the office in the general budget, but authorized the county manager to fund the program through reserve or other funds after the budget process was completed.

With several county officials out of the office this week, it has left people in the city anxiously awaiting word on the funding.

"It isn't in the initial budget adopted by the commission, but they still have the option to fund the project from their reserves," said Alachua County poverty reduction manager John Skelly. "Whether they're intending to do that or thinking about doing it, I don't know."

Meanwhile, Jayne Moraski, director of the Office on Homelessness, said she is just waiting to see what happens and trying not to worry.

"I would hope that they would fund it, because I think that they have made that commitment to the 10-year plan," said Moraski, referencing the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness that was created by the city and county.

Gail Monahan, executive director of the Alachua County Housing Authority, sent a letter to the county manager outlining the importance of the office, specifically in its role to leverage grant money.

"The actual grants received represent a return on investment of well over $10 per each $1 invested in the Office on Homelessness," Monahan wrote.

Advocates have said that this is a critical year for the Office on Homelessness, as the city closes on property it purchased for the proposed one-stop homeless services center and looks to begin developing the property.

"I'm sure the county will do the right thing," Monahan said. "I certainly think that the city has done its share and then some, and I guess it never would occur to me that the county wouldn't do theirs."

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