The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced $4.1 million in grants to support homeless programs across Arkansas.
The grants, announced Friday, are aimed at supporting local efforts to reduce and end homelessness.
HUD says the Arkansas grants include about $3.1 million for projects in central Arkansas, about $356,000 for projects in northwest Arkansas, nearly $250,000 for the city of Pine Bluff, and about $377,000 for projects in the remainder of the state.
A HUD report last December said more than 2,700 people were homeless in Arkansas. Nearly half of those people were unsheltered, with the other half living in emergency shelters or transitional housing.
Pine Bluff will receive a total of $247,942 from the grant. Of that, $20,243 is designated for transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. The remaining $227,699 will fund the city’s program to help the homeless.
Larry Matthews, who is the director of the Pine Bluff Economic and Community Development Department, said the grant is the renewal of a grant the city receives annually to fund programs for the homeless.
Norma Payne, the homeless coordinator for the City of Pine Bluff Homeless Program, said the funds will be used to assist homeless individuals and families, the disabled homeless and chronic homeless, that is, those who have had at least four documented episodes of homelessness over a three-year period and stayed in shelters such as the Salvation Army, CASA or the like.
Payne said the money can be used to help pay utility or rent deposits, and there is no set amount that can be spent on an individual or family, but rather the assistance is “based on whatever the need is.”
In 2018, Payne said that approximately 15 individuals and families were helped through the program, and in past years, as many as 30 to 40 individuals and families received assistance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.