United Way MV Secures Multiple Grants to Expand Housing and Homeless Efforts

United Way MV Secures Multiple Grants to Expand Housing and Homeless Efforts

March 11, 2021 – Utica NY –

Housing and homelessness have been a focus of United Way of the Mohawk Valley (United Way MV) for many years.  However, the current pandemic has impacted area residents in ways that have made the challenges related to obtaining or keeping safe, decent, and affordable rental housing even more critical. Recently, United Way MV secured two grants totaling $532,657. Both were HUD Emergency Solutions Grant COVID (ESG-CV) awards that add resources to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the impact of the pandemic among individuals and families who are homeless or receiving assistance in Oneida County. 

This funding now supports three additional positions to work with United Way MV’s Housing Team, including a Program Manager, Case Manager, and Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) Specialist, to assist those facing homelessness or in danger of becoming homeless.

“With the increase of financial struggles due to COVID, we know more people in our community will face hardships that could lead to homelessness,” said Erin Gutierrez Matt, United Way MV CEO. “This additional funding will support the ability to work with more individuals and families affected by economic struggles due to COVID-19 and prevent homelessness.”

The grant for $479,175 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYS OTDA) was given to the Oneida County Department of Family and Community Services and awarded United Way of the MV to expand their efforts around housing insecurity. The ESG-CV Program Manager, Kelly Conroy-Scott, will be overseeing United Way’s COVID-specific housing efforts. 

“Housing stability is the foundation of our health and wellbeing,” stated Kelly Conroy-Scott, United Way MV’s ESG-CV Program Manager. “Without housing, our ability to obtain an education or job, and even meet our basic needs to live a healthy lifestyle, is not only in danger but nearly impossible.” 

ESG-CV Case Manager, Erin Cady, will focus on determining the need for specific levels of housing assistance and helping the household identify and obtain affordable housing. Once housing is stabilized the case manager will help the household identify other resources needed to maintain this stability such as health insurance, childcare services, food, and clothing. 

The second grant, ESG-CV Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), for $53,482.00 was awarded from HUD through NYS OTDA to United Way MV to collect the data on homelessness during COVID-19. 

As part of this grant, United Way MV’s new ESG-CV HMIS Specialist, Katrina Webb, is responsible for utilizing current HMIS software for analytical support, data collection and reporting regulations, and Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

“The data maintained within this system is crucial to our ability to help those in the Mohawk Valley,” said Robin Robinson, United Way MV Administrator of Grants and Initiatives. “This data helps us better understand why families and individuals are becoming homeless and therefore, how we can address the root causes of homelessness.”

In addition to these positions, local emergency shelter provider agencies that are members of the Mohawk Valley Housing and Homeless Coalition (MVHHC) have been guided by OTDA on preventative measures to be taken to avoid COVID-19 transmission and protocols in their facilities. Grant funds were provided for such items as Clorox 360 Sanitation Systems, metal versus wood bed frames, dividers, and bed bug hotboxes.

United Way MV’s Housing Team works with homeless individuals to find them immediate shelter, and then housing while connecting with services to help the root causes of their becoming homeless. United Way MV’s Housing Team works in partnership with MVHHC. Agencies that make up the MVHHC, including United Way MV, are leading our community’s efforts in addressing homelessness.

While United Way MV’s Housing Team conducts outreach efforts to find those in need of help, those in need can contact United Way MV's Housing Team. 

Oneida County residents outside of the City of Utica who are at risk of becoming homeless for reasons such as overdue rent, rent debt, inability to pay future rental payments, or who are living in the home of another due to economic hardship can also contact United Way MV’s Housing Team at housing@unitedwaymv.org or 315-525-3776.

Those now residing in Oneida or Madison counties who are currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless within the next 14 days should contact our Coordinated Entry Specialist Kari Johnson at KarishmaJ@unitedwaymv.org or 315-922-2014 or at United Way MV’s offices located at 258 Genesee Street, 1st Floor, Utica, NY.