On July 22, 1987, President Reagan signed the Stuart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act into law to provide urgently needed assistance to protect and improve the lives of the homeless. The Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) Program was developed by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement the Act.
The ESG Program is designed to be the first step in a continuum of assistance to enable homeless individuals and families to move toward independent living, as well as, to prevent homelessness. It is designed to help improve the quality of existing emergency shelters for the homeless, to help make available additional emergency shelters, to help meet the costs of operating the emergency shelters and of connecting homeless individuals with certain essential social services, supportive services, and other kinds of assistance they need to improve their situation, and to help fund preventive programs and activities.
The County of York is an entitlement community under the program. The amount of the annual grant varies. These funds may be used for activities in York County, including the City of York. The county and city jointly request proposals from non-profit emergency shelter providers to provide assistance to the homeless. The Emergency Food and Shelter Board reviews and selects which proposals to fund. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Local governments must apply on behalf of non-profit organizations. Therefore, the York County Planning Commission administers the PA DCED/ESG Program on behalf of the York County non-profit organizations that apply for funding, including those in the City of York.
Rehabilitation - Renovation, rehabilitation, or conversion of buildings to be used as emergency shelters for the homeless.
Essential Services - services concerned with employment, health, substance abuse and education. Grants may be used to provide an essential service only if the service is a new service or a quantifiable increase in the level of a service above that which the unit of general local government provided with local funds or prior ESG Program funds during the 12 months immediately before it received the grant.
Operations - include payment of maintenance, rent, repairs, fuel, security, equipment, insurance, utilities, and furnishings.
Homeless Prevention - security deposits, short-term subsidies to defray rent and utility arrearages for families that have received eviction or utility termination notices due to a sudden reduction in income, mediation programs for tenant-landlord disputes, payments to prevent foreclosures on a home, and legal service programs.
Administration (CDH) Staff
- limited to 2.5% of the total grant
DCED gives priority to rehabilitation projects and applications that support and provide:
- comprehensive and thoroughly administered services that lead clients into permanent housing
- shelters that support keeping the family intact
- activities that promote the integration of immigrant communities
- programs that provide funds for necessary supportive services
- evidence net-working and participation in the County Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Process
- applications in the amount of $50,000 or more
Since the County began participating in the “State” ESG program, $1,240,485 have been distributed to projects benefitting homeless families and individuals throughout York County. Funds have been used primarily to renovate homeless shelters and provide operating funds.
Previously Funded Projects/Activities Include:
- Community Development and Housing (CDH) Staff
- Building renovations
- Lodging/shelter nights
- Shelter operations
- Essential services for the homeless
- Homeless prevention activities such as utility and rent assistance
The ESG program, as operated by the County of York, is designed to provide the first step in a continuum of assistance to homeless individuals and families. The ultimate goal is to enable homeless individuals and families to live independently. The County ESG program gives priority to funding operating expenses for existing emergency shelters. However, in the twenty four years of the ESG program, the County has funded expenses for shelter staff, shelter renovations, shelter nights, essential services for the homeless, furnishings, homeless prevention activities such as utility and rent assistance, and shelter operations. Facilities in the City of York are included as the City does not receive its own entitlement funds
In 2011, HUD published new Ordinance which expanded ESG into Supportive Services and increased funding accordingly. Changes to the County’s ESG program will be implemented in 2012.
Selecting Emergency Shelter Activities
Specific activities are submitted by non-profit agencies to the HCD staff on a three-year cycle. Activities are reviewed by the staff and rated according to following program requirements:
Consistency with the County Continuum of Care.
Availability of non-ESG matching funds.
For shelter rehabilitation projects, includes a commitment to maintain the shelter for the required amount of time.
Includes a commitment to assist homeless persons in obtaining appropriate support services and other available assistance.
Activities are then rated, ranked, and submitted to the County’s York Housing Advisory Commission for approval. The proposed activities are advertised and public hearings are held to solicit comment. Finally, the proposed three year activity list is submitted to the County Commissioners for approval.