Grant Awarded to Porter-Starke Services Initiates Efforts to Combat Homelessness in Starke County
The growing problem of homelessness in the United States is particularly stark in rural regions. Recognizing the urgency of the issue, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has responded by granting over $315 million to organizations throughout the country. These funds are intended to aid these organizations in their efforts to tackle homelessness within their local communities.
On a bright Wednesday, February 22, HUD representatives paid a visit to Porter-Starke Services based in Valparaiso, Indiana. Their mission was to present a significant grant of $925,532 to the organization, which aims to launch the first-ever permanent supportive housing program in Starke County. This event was a momentous occasion for Porter-Starke Services, marking the beginning of a new collaboration with HUD, reinforcing their mission, and igniting hopes for a healthier, more inclusive Starke County.
The ramifications of homelessness on an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional health are severe. In the meeting, Lisa Swayne, the housing team leader at Porter-Starke Services, underscored the critical role of stable housing and the transformative potential the grant holds for the community.
Speaking from experience, Swayne highlighted, “Life becomes almost impossible when you’re living in a tent in the woods. Absence of a postal address, misplaced medication, lost sense of time – these factors make basic tasks such as scheduling appointments a challenge. Gaining stability through housing is the first step towards rebuilding one’s life.”
To secure the grant, organizations had to undergo a rigorous application process, detailing how they would utilize the funds to enhance their community. Porter-Starke Services’ application, brimming with drive and passion, left no doubt in HUD’s mind about their potential to make a tangible difference.
Praising Porter-Starke Services, Diane M. Shelley, Midwest regional administrator of HUD, said, “Their clear mission, high chances of success, and the community improvements they’ve committed to having been highly appreciated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
The funds granted to Porter-Starke Services will be immediately allocated to establish in-community housing for chronically homeless individuals in Starke County. Preparations are already underway, with apartments secured and ready for occupancy.
Swayne shared, “Right now, some of our clients are sleeping in tents in Starke County. This grant will be put to immediate use – we are ready to roll.”
Beyond the housing needs, the grant also encompasses service dollars that will help support other necessities like food, transportation, and furniture.
Swayne expressed her gratitude saying, “I hope to personally thank Secretary Marcia Fudge someday for going above and beyond. It’s a blessing to provide housing for these individuals. I am eager to work with HUD for many years to come to improve the lives of the homeless in Indiana’s rural counties.”
Porter-Starke Services takes a holistic approach to the problem of homelessness. They understand that stable housing is the first step, but other supports are needed to fully improve the quality of life. Hence, their program wraps around providing access to therapy, case management, psychiatric and health services, transportation, food, legal aid, and clothing.
Expressing her enthusiasm, Kimberly Wize, field office director of HUD, said, “Few programs offer such comprehensive services. A person can come in and get everything they need – from housing to health. It’s exciting.”
The event was suffused with gratitude, hope, and camaraderie as everyone shared their aspirations for Starke County’s future.
Matthew Burden, president and CEO of Porter-Starke Services, thanked HUD and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), saying, “We are eager to build upon our services in Starke County for those experiencing homelessness.”
With time and sustained effort, Porter-Starke Services is poised to make a significant impact on chronic homelessness in Starke County. The organization is dedicated to ensuring everyone receives the help they need, and HUD eagerly anticipates their success.
Diane Shelley concluded, “To address homelessness, we need to acknowledge the injustices that have led people to their situation and provide the necessary help. Treating everyone with dignity and respect is essential. I can’t wait to see the work unfold here, and I look forward to reporting back on the success.” To learn more about Porter-Starke Services and its mission to improve people’s quality of life, visit porterstarke.org.