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Thursday, June 23, 2011 04:50 pm

Non profit applicants wanted for $17,000 grant to aid homeless

Springfield residents have turned an extra nickel and dime into a more than $17,000 to help curb homelessness in Springfield.

The City of Springfield’s Round-Up program is proof that small change really can add up to make a difference. Through the voluntary contribution program, community residents can round their City Water Light & Power bill up to the nearest dollar, or add additional donations. CWLP has now collected $17,174.81 in grant funding through the Round-Up program between November 2009 and May 2011, part or all of which will benefit one or more agencies working to help the homeless in Springfield.

Mayor Michael Houston and members of the Springfield Homeless Advisory Committee released the grant information at a June 16 press conference.

 “The reason that we’ve asked you here today is to help us to get the word out to agencies that they can now apply to get some of these funds,” says Houston.

Lorenzo Louden, founder of Tower of Refuge in Springfield, plans to apply for the grant that he says “could help curtail homelessness and also to help the population that we service best, which is ex-offenders.”

Louden and his wife, Bevey, started the nonprofit agency in 2005 and currently help more than 100 ex-offenders each month to find work, housing and transportation after incarceration. The couple and their ministry help individuals integrate back into society, a way to prevent homelessness.

All applicants are required to draw up a plan of action stating how they will use the grant money and how those funds fit into their existing programs, according to director of community relations. The committee will evaluate each agency’s plan and Robinson will make suggestions to the city council.

Nicholas Stojakovich, director of Hope in Action-Springfield and a member of the advisory committee, says that funds are not dispersed on a whim.

“The funds have to go to an agency or entity that is serving the episodic and chronically homeless that research shows are effective at reducing homelessness, and have outcomes that are measurable,” says Stojakovich.

The first grant was awarded in  2009 to the Springfield Overflow Shelter, operated by the Salvation Army, at $8,310.91.

 “I was quite pleased,” says Archie Ford, director of SOS. “To me that meant we had the support of the community and the city and that’s a real good feeling.”

Through the grant money, SOS was also able to keep shelter shelves stocked with hygiene and cleaning supplies.    

“It was a lot more expensive to run (SOS) last year, which means it’ll be a lot more expensive to run it this year,” says Ford.

Utility bills have tripled and rent has nearly doubled for the shelter since 2009, and Ford says he is confident the shelter will again receive funding when he applies for the grant this year.

For more informatoin visit www.cwlp.com.

Contact Holly Dillemuth at hdillemuth@illinoistimes.com.

Non-profits have until July 15 to apply for funding and the Springfield Homeless Advisory Committee will review all applications for the grant by August 4.

The RoundUp began in 2009 as an ordinance sponsored by Ward 5 Ald. Sam Cahnman.
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