By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 4/19/19
HARRISONBURG — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday the recipients of the Virginia Housing Trust Fund Homeless Reduction Grants worth $2.2 million, including local nonprofit Mercy House.
Through a competitive process, 30 projects that target efforts to reduce homelessness were selected for the funds.
Mercy House was awarded the maximum grant of $100,000.
This is the third year in a row Mercy House has received the Virginia Housing Fund Homeless Reduction Grant.
“We are grateful to the governor and the commonwealth of Virginia to do this work for our rehousing program,” said Shannon Good, executive director of Mercy House.
Established in 1988, Mercy House serves Harrisonburg and Winchester, as well as the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren.
Its mission is to provide food, clothes and shelter to homeless families with dependent children in the area.
Since 2008, Mercy House has been combating poverty and homelessness in the community through its rapid rehousing program. The program provides those who are homeless with a living facility and a chance to get re- familiarized with “normal life.”
“The program is to get those who are literally homeless back into permanent housing,” Good said. “Last year, we helped 150 families. We don’t just serve Mercy House people; we serve the homeless community.”
Families are placed into market rate housing with the focus on getting them back on their feet.
Although holding a job is not a requirement, Good said some sort of income is needed to sustain the housing.
“Majority of the program is to get people employed again,” Good said.
Good, who has been executive director since 2014, said the nonprofit received its first $100,000 Virginia Housing Trust Fund Homeless Reduction Grant last year, helping 42 families with the grant funding alone. “Everyone works better with a roof over their head,” Good said.
Good said they are hoping to match the number of families they can re- place with this year’s grant.
Successful efforts by Northam and the General Assembly to increase the Virginia Housing Trust Fund allowed an additional 16 projects to be rewarded this year, according to a press release from Northam’s office. The additional funding totaled $1.1 million.
“We know that having a stable, safe and affordable place to live is key to achieving positive educational outcomes, securing a good job, and leading a healthy, productive life,” Northam said in a press release. “With this funding, we are working to strengthen our communities and ensure that no Virginian is left behind.”