W hat would you do if you didn’t have the resources to secure a place to live?
What if you and your family were facing a life of homelessness?
In January 2012, the Wyoming Statewide Continuum of Care conducted a point-in-time count and found more than 1,800 people in Wyoming faced that reality.
On May 17, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead made an announcement addressing homelessness in Wyoming, signifying that the state of Wyoming will be taking a coordinating role in addressing the rising homeless population in the state.
On July 3, Mead tapped the Wyoming Department of Family Services to manage the state’s homeless services and collaborate with the Wyoming Continuum of Care statewide in an effort to more efficiently coordinate existing services.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development allocates funds each year to Wyoming for housing the homeless, but because a lack of coordinated services and competing priorities, the state Continuum of Care only received $340,000 of the $758,634 designated for Wyoming from HUD.
Mead’s announcement is testament to his leadership and vision of helping those individuals and families who are most vulnerable and have fallen on hard times and have become homeless.
HUD plays an important role in not just housing the homeless, but in providing a vast amount of other resources and funding for housing and community development programs throughout Wyoming.
Just last year HUD funded a cumulative total of $7.7 million for the development of Sunshine Apartments in Casper, with Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. Each year through the Department’s Community Planning and Development Office, we fund $3.4 million in Community Development Block Grant funding to the state of Wyoming and the cities of Casper and Cheyenne and another $3.5 million in HOME funding to Wyoming Community Development Authority.
The Department funds a total of more than $39 million in multi-family housing assistance throughout the state and nearly $14 million in public housing assistance in Wyoming. Additionally, we provide $3.7 million in housing assistance to the Wyoming tribes yearly. We have an additional investment of $2.5 billion in FHA single family mortgage insurance in force and another $91.5 million in multi-family mortgage insurance in place. HUD’s investment in Wyoming totals $2.7 billion.
Partnerships within the state are at the heart of it all. Our work is oftentimes behind the scenes working with nonprofits, local and state government, but HUD plays a critical role for the residents of Wyoming in order to deliver support and resources as leverage for community and housing development. Together, we target our resources and our efforts to move homeless families and individuals to permanent housing.
As we embark on this new opportunity to foster real and lasting change in Wyoming’s affordable housing sector and homelessness initiatives, we are excited the governor has announced his commitment take a leadership role in coordinating homeless services. We look forward to continuing to partner with the governor and the state in helping create new realities for individuals and their families all across Wyoming.
n Rick M. Garcia is the HUD Rocky Mountain Regional Administrator.