BANGOR, Maine — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday $1.25 million in funding for homeless assistance programs in Maine.
The funding, part of a $140 million release announced by HUD last week, was divvied among eight programs aiming to put people experiencing homelessness into reliable housing.
“Communities all across the country are changing their approach to reducing homelessness, and now is not the time to retreat from doing what we know works,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a news release.
Donovan and other officials say the key to ending homelessness is taking the homeless out of shelters and off the streets and getting them into housing as quickly as possible.
The largest chunk of funding — $940,000 — went to a Residential Support Program under the Portland Continuum of Care. The Continuum of Care Program is a national organization with local planning agencies that administer housing programs.
Bangor’s Shaw House Waterworks Supportive Housing Program received $107,000.
Earlier this year, Continuum of Care programs across the country were forced to make reductions in the wake of a 5 percent funding cut resulting from federal sequestration. Because of this loss of funding, HUD delayed funding for transitional housing and several permanent housing projects until the second round of grants was announced Thursday, according to the release.
The Maine Housing Authority did not respond to a message requesting comment as of Friday afternoon.
On Nov. 21, HUD released its 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Some news was good, including a 24 percent drop nationwide in homelessness among veterans and a 16 percent reduction among individuals experiencing long-term homelessness since 2010. HUD’s data for Maine were less encouraging — indicating a 26 percent spike in overall homelessness since 2012.
Statistics collected and compiled by Maine agencies for the 2013 report indicated a much smaller increase than what HUD described — closer to 7 percent — but officials said there were serious challenges still to overcome, and housing services are needed to make a dent.