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Fort Dodge Housing Agency receives grant

Organization receives $38,785 to work with people in danger of homelessness

December 10, 2013
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS ( , Messenger News

Fort Dodge Housing Agency has received a Shelter Assistance Fund grant for $38,785 from the Iowa Finance Authority.

The grant is for agencies that provide assistance to people who are at or near homelessness, according to Barb Michaels, FDHA executive director.

"Fort Dodge Housing Agency has six housing units that are in that transitional housing program," Michaels said. "We will bring folks in who meet a number of criteria. Obviously, homelessness is the priority there, but we also provide some special attention to folks who are trying to reunify with children, who may be victims of domestic violence, or may have been put into a homeless situation because of no fault of their own, meaning a natural disaster."

The critical part of the program, Michaels said, is working with people who are chronically homeless by providing them with "wraparound services."

"Our goal is to try to get our clients into a more secure position, and build them into a permanent housing situation," she said. "Each person is different. Some of the services we provide are basic, like family budgeting and nutrition. Some of them are more critical and may involve substance abuse counseling, parenting skills. We'll work with a client and help them through their (General Education Development test)."

The grant will allow the agency to expand its services by providing for its overhead costs, Michaels said, including insurance and operational costs.

"It also helps underwrite the cost of the case management, the staff who are working one-on-one with these individuals to help them access skills, access employment," she said. "Basically, they keep in touch of them. They help them set short-term and long-term goals, and work with them on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis to make sure they are moving themselves toward achieving their goals."

There are more homeless people in Fort Dodge than the community realizes, Michaels said.

"There are many individuals that you will find, while you may not see them on the streets, may be living with friends, moving from friend to friend, staying in their cars. Or they come out of shelters ... without a next place to go," she said. "We see them in many different circumstances."

The problem is growing, Michaels said, which provides challenges for the FDHA.

"The availability of housing for those types of clients is shrinking in our community," she said. "We have the Beacon of Hope for men, but we don't really have a significant shelter of that nature for women."

According to Michaels, the grant is a validation of the agency's efforts.

"When I first came, we were receiving $10,000 from IFA for this program. This is the first time IFA has fully funded our grant request," she said. "I think it speaks to the quality of the program that we offer here at the agency, that my staff is able to provide. For us, as a team, it speaks to our success with our clients."



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