- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) - Homeless service agencies across Indiana are feeling the sting of federal funding cuts driven by a shift away from transitional housing and emergency homeless shelters in favor of permanent housing.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s “housing-first” approach has left homeless programs in southern Indiana’s Clark and Floyd counties with nearly $550,000 in cuts, leading to the elimination of the counties’ two transitional housing programs meant to help homeless people get back on their feet.

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities’ transitional housing program was also defunded, but its seven units will remain open, said Leslea Townsend Cronin, the New Albany-based nonprofit’s social services director.

“In the grand scheme of things, there’s not a whole lot of money to serve the homeless community in southern Indiana. That’s money that’s been taken away and not replaced with anything,” Cronin, who chairs the Homeless Coalition of Southern Indiana, told the News and Tribune.

Permanent supportive housing serves clients who are considered chronically homeless and those with a disability, Townsend Cronin said. But transitional housing is a step between an emergency shelter and permanent housing, providing people with their own apartment units and counselors and case managers who create individualized plans to bring people successfully back into financial and housing stability.

Indianapolis programs that provide housing and support to the homeless have seen a more than $687,000 drop in funding this year, a 15 percent drop that reduced its HUD money to $4.2 million.

YWCA Northeast Indiana’s Hope House in Fort Wayne will lose $130,000 it had been receiving in HUD money for its transitional housing program that assists women who are chemically dependent. But the nonprofit group plans to continue the program by raising its own money to pay for it.

“We were aware this probably was coming down the road,” Beckman told The (Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel.

Nationwide, funding of permanent supportive housing projects increased by $165 million to a total $1.41 billion during fiscal year 2015, while rapid rehousing programs’ funding doubled to $197 million. But transitional housing funding decreased by $155 million to a total $171 million.

HUD says that research shows the housing strategies receiving increased funding are more cost-effective and yield better outcomes than other types of homeless assistance. The agency says that permanent supportive housing is the most “intensive solution” that HUD has to combat homelessness.

Zackery Ladnier, a formerly homeless Indianapolis man, credits Pathway to Recovery, a sober-living transitional housing program, for helping him get off drugs and land a job in construction.

That program has seen a $102,000 funding cut - 30 percent of its annual budget, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

“Programs like this are meant to help homeless people with addiction,” Ladnier said. “When they cut our funds off, we can’t bring other people in and get them help. That’s another day they have to struggle outside.”

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