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United Way of Lancaster County


Lancaster seeks $750K for homelessness programs

(Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Lancaster city is hoping to secure $750,000 to bolster local nonprofits’ homelessness services.

The money, part of the federal Emergency Solutions Grant program, or ESG, would come through Pennsylvania’s Department of Community & Economic Development. City Hall is applying in partnership with the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition and its parent entity, the Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority.


Organizations eligible to share in Lancaster city’s ESG funding, if received:

The money would go toward as many as nine organizations that provide emergency shelter, street outreach or homelessness prevention services such as housing counseling and landlord-tenant mediation.

“We could do a lot if fully funded,” said Deb Jones, who heads the coalition’s office at the authority.

Among the possibilities: Additional outreach hours and staff, and resources for shelters and facility renovations. The nine partner nonprofits are in the process of submitting proposals to City Hall that will be incorporated into the application to DCED.

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development provides both regular and supplemental ESG funding. The regular funding is based on a complex formula that accounts for a mix of demographic and economic data. For the past two years, Lancaster has fallen below the cutoff.

“We are always right on the edge,” said Simone Dia, the city’s ESG community development administrator.

Lancaster sought supplemental ESG funding from DCED last year, but was unsuccessful. DCED has a little under $5.8 million available, which makes the competition for ESG grants intense.

The coalition underwrites much of Lancaster’s homelessness infrastructure, but with a budget of about $1.9 million, it has to make a little go a long way. (The entities that receive money from it all do their own fundraising and grantwriting as well.) Having another $750,000 — an increase of nearly 40% — would make a huge difference, Jones said.

The city and coalition hope to hear from DCED by the end of the year, Dia said. They could receive all, some, or none of their request. If they do receive a grant, they would have 18 months to spend it, beginning at the start of 2024.