Saint Bede Catholic Church and James City County are seeking help from the federal government to establish permanent supportive housing for the community’s homeless.
JCC Housing Administrator Vaughn Poller said the church has applied for a $287,367 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to supplement rent for homeless individuals who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse.
Poller said the county would act as the church’s fiscal agent by providing checks to landlords and overseeing the grant distribution.
The proposed housing program would accommodate up to 18 homeless individuals in apartments throughout the community.
Shannon Woloszynowski, director of Saint Bede’s outreach center, said the grant could cover rent for those 18 individuals for two years.
“This would enable us to take these folks who are the most vulnerable, pull them out of campsites and put them into housing,” she said.
Woloszynowski said Saint Bede has been able to offer short-term rapid rehousing assistance but not permanent supportive housing to homeless individuals with mental illnesses.
Through a “housing first” model, Saint Bede can help homeless individuals focus on obtaining benefits like SNAP food stamps and social security.
“The goal is to get them some income and help them reach whatever stability is for them,” Woloszynowski said.
James City County’s partnership with Saint Bede will allow the church to “extend and sustain” its outreach to the homeless in the Historic Triangle, Poller said.
“They reach out and work with the most vulnerable people in our community and they are steadfast in trying to meet those individuals’ needs,” Poller said. “If they can serve more people, we want to be able to provide them the support to do that.”
Poller said the county and the church will find out if they received the grant in early 2016.