Centre applies for housing assistance grant
By JAIMEE KESTER
BELLEFONTE – At Tuesday’s meeting, Centre County Commissioners approved a grant application that would provide housing assistance for the local homeless population.
The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant would provide rental assistance, security deposit and case management support to homeless individuals and families for up to 12 months.
The grant total is $236,120 with the source of funding as follows, federal $188,896 and county $47,224 for the period of Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018.
If awarded the grant would provide nine one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments. The county aims to help 26 individuals, including children in the first year.
The pre-application has already been submitted and approved as of last Thursday, with the final application due at the end of this week. If chosen, the county would receive the grant this spring.
Though the county would provide initial funding for the apartment, subsequent payments are completely up to the tenant and there is no responsibility on the county.
“The participant has the lease,” said Natalie Corman, Centre County Deputy Administrator/Human Resources who presented the grant to the commissioners. “It’s the person’s responsibility to upkeep the apartment.”
9-1-1 and Verizon
The commissioners also addressed ongoing issues with 9-1-1 offices and Verizon regarding late payments and fees.
County Solicitor Elizabeth A. Dupuis recommended that negotiating with legal assistance is the best step forward.
Dupuis estimates that late fees on top of missed payments to Verizon amount to nearly $30,000.
“There is fault on both sides here,” said Dupuis. “This goes back six years…getting bills they shouldn’t have sent us and bills we didn’t pay because we didn’t know if we should.”
Part of the problem is no one from Verizon is getting back to the county regarding the missed payments and late fees that keep accumulating.
Though there are late fees being billed to the county, all assured it’s not affecting daily operations.
“We are paying all bills for current service,” said Dupuis.
Frustration over the matter was evident with commissioners upset over the lack of communication between Verizon.
“We’ve got to put the hammer down on them to stop the bleeding,” said Commissioner Steve Dershem. “There’s no customer service channel for us to resolve this.”
The commissioners also announced the second of a series of town-hall style meetings on the opioid issue in the county.
The second meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mount Nittany Middle School Auditorium, 656 Brandywine Drive, State College. Call 814-234-6727 to RSVP.