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Thursday, Feb. 3, 2005 12:45 pm

Shelter resources

M.E.R.C.Y. Communities has won a three-year federal grant worth $240,000 to establish eight units of permanent housing for Springfield’s homeless.

The funding comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which last week issued $1.4 billion in grants to more than 4,000 homeless programs across the country.

That’s the largest allocation of competitive grant money the federal agency has overseen, according to HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan.

In Springfield and Sangamon County, five social-service providers won a total of $689,689, a 19 percent increase from last year.

For most of the agencies, the funding represents a large slice of their annual operating budgets.

M.E.R.C.Y. was the big winner by far, receiving a pair of grants totaling $409,483.

The agency will use $167,293 to continue running its two-year transitional shelter program for women and children on East Cook Street.

The remaining $242,190 will go toward opening a permanent housing facility geared toward homeless people with disabilities.

M.E.R.C.Y. executive director Mary Stone says the agency plans to lease, rather than purchase, a building for its new permanent housing program.

“We’re not property managers,” says Stone, “we’re social workers affecting change in people’s lives.”

Other recipients of last week’s federal grant allocation are:

• Abundant Faith, which runs a transitional shelter for women and children on Taylor Avenue, $48,825.

• Fifth Street Renaissance, which operates a transitional shelter for men and women, $24,150.

• Helping Hands, which offers emergency shelter to men and women on 11th Street, $115,332.

• Youth Service Bureau, which provides emergency and transitional shelter to teenagers on Normandy Road, $91,899.

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