A recent grant proposal for the Fresh Start Homeless Shelter program, submitted in November of last year to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, was not approved.

The proposal was submitted for Round 1 of the Emergency Solutions Grant established by the CARES Act (ESG-CV), on behalf of Community Action Partnership and Lebanon County Christian Ministries.

It was also presented by Samuel Ortiz, Administrator for Lebanon County Community Action Partnership, and Bryan Smith, Executive Director for LCCM, at the County Commissioners meeting held on Nov. 19, 2020. This also coincides with the anniversary of the commissioners signing a proclamation that designated Nov. 16 to Nov. 24, 2019 as “National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week”, as previously reported by LebTown.
Although the request was not approved for the time being, Ortiz is already focused on the next opportunity.

“A secondary round will soon be accepting applications, and we plan to reapply”, stated Ortiz.

If approved, the program would utilize the grant to cover one year of operating costs, stated by the original proposal to be $298,752.35.

Fresh Start Emergency Resource Center and Shelter is a LCCM program, previously hosted by local churches. Prior to the pandemic, it rotated every two weeks and provided an overnight shelter and resource center for Lebanon’s homeless population. However, to mitigate the risk of infection for COVID-19, it had to be moved to a non-congregate setting at a hotel on March 13, 2020.

The grant proposal states that, at the time of its writing, “35 guests are relying on LCCM/Fresh Start for meeting the basic need of housing,” with eighteen of them being children.

Problems listed by the proposal that could be addressed with ESG funding include lack of volunteers and the potential spread of COVID-19.

The budget includes $180,000 for hotel expenses, $98,500 for staff wages, $3,000 for staff benefits, $5943 for support, $5520 for equipment and $5789.35 for transportation services.

“These funds afford an opportunity to actively encourage the economic security of our most vulnerable Lebanon County residents through collaboration,” stated Ortiz. “The Fresh Start Homeless shelter has been a vital resource in the community and we at Community Action Partnership look forward to working together with the shelter in an increased capacity.”

ESG-CV Round 2 applications are due Feb. 26, 2021.

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