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Changes coming to homeless shelter
by Joshua H. Silavent
Aug 10, 2011 | 2074 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — Because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is implementing a shift in its homeless services policy effective Jan. 1, 2012, the long-term operation of the Community Assistance Center (CAC) and homeless shelter on Record Street remains in limbo.

HUD’s new regulations, spelled out in the HEARTH Act, reflect a shift of resources away from indefinite sheltering of the homeless toward finding rapid, permanent housing assistance.

For example, current policy allows homeless persons to live at the CAC for up to three months within a six-month period (families can stay up to six months), but HUD is looking to shorten length-of-stays to a maximum of 60 days for at least 80 percent of shelter residents.

Failure to comply with these changes could jeopardize nearly $5 million in federal funding for local homelessness and housing programs, including community development block grants and continuity-of-care grants.

With this mind, Washoe County commissioners agreed Tuesday to scrap a contentious plan to award an operations contract for the homeless shelter to Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada (CCNN).

In late May, a multi-jurisdictional committee of Washoe County, Sparks, Reno and Reno Area Assistance representatives voted 4 to 2 to award an operations contract to CCNN based on a number of criteria, including references and available funding. But officials with Volunteers of America (VOA), the nonprofit that currently operates the shelter, vehemently protested and the process stalled.

Now, Washoe County, Reno and Sparks governments are expected to extend a current cooperative agreement with VOA to continue operating the CAC through January.

In the meantime, a new request-for-proposal process will take place and a long-term operations contract will be awarded to either VOA or CCNN sometime in December based on new performance measures handed down from HUD.

“As we face a new contract proposal process, we look forward to showing that Volunteers of America is uniquely qualified to meet with these critically important requirements and ensuring the best possible level of care for the people we serve,” Sandy Isham, spokesperson for VOA, said in an email Wednesday.

Officials with CCNN did not respond to calls for comment prior to publication.

Reno will remain the lead agency of the CAC for the time being, though Washoe County is likely to soon take over this responsibility. A transitional governing board also is being developed to oversee the long-term operation of the homeless shelter.
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