Earlier this month, in Port Jefferson was awarded two one-year grants of $104,400 from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to help combat homelessness in Suffolk County. It was one of only two organizations on Long Island to receive some of the more than $15.7 million awarded this year through OTDA’s Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP).
In Nassau County, Nassau Suffolk Law Services Committee, Inc. received a $277,116 grant. Hope House Ministries, established in Port Jefferson village in 1984, was the only Suffolk County organization to receive funding through the program.
Marc Kaplan from the OTDA said that his office received 103 applications statewide and 67 organizations received funding through STEHP. An organization bidding for the funds must submit to the OTDA’s competitive Request for Proposal that includes financial information among other qualifications. STEHP came about this year when the 2012 New York State budget called for the streamlining of four existing state programs into a single homelessness prevention and crisis intervention program.
According to a spokesman from Hope House, the award will be used to fund salaries for two staff members at the agency's Pax Christi Hospitality Center in Port Jefferson "to provide outreach and basic needs to chronically homeless, mentally ill and substance abusing men and women."
The grant will start on Oct. 1 and fund the center’s new program, Project Hope II, a continuation of the work of Holy Cross Brother Roger Croteau who worked at Pax Christi from 1990 until last year.
"Services provided will include access to food and clothing, mental health counseling, assistance with employment, transportation assistance, and referrals in pursuing substance abuse, mental health and medical treatment," the spokesman said in a statement.
The ultimate goal for Project Hope II recipients is "long term, safe and affordable housing."
"Even the most difficult to reach amongst the homeless population can make strides in improving their quality of life if given the chance," the spokesman said.
Hope House estimated that 100 people will benefit from the program.
"Brother Roger is an inspiration to us all," said Hope House founder Fr. Frank Pizzarelli during a recent ceremony marking the agency's 32nd anniversary. "It's a privilege for us to continue his important work with the poor and we're grateful to the OTDA for partnering with us in recognizing the increasing needs of those who are homeless in Suffolk County. What motivated Brother Roger for so many years is what motivates us today, an increasing appreciation that all life is sacred."