Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, announced that the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACoLA) will receive a $738,000 federal grant to continue employing its “Resident Service Coordinators” who are integral in connecting public housing residents with much-needed supportive services and resident empowerment activities in the community. Even more important, these coordinators link the County’s seniors to resources and services that will enable them to live independently and age-in-place.
“This program is critically important in helping to link residents with the types of services they need to improve their lives, including education and job training, computer and financial literacy services, and supportive services to help the elderly and disabled live independently and with dignity,” said Congresswoman Waters. “The residents of Los Angeles County need this type of support. And I’m working every day in Washington to ensure these types of programs are strengthened, improved and are reaching the people who need them most.”
Awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the funds have been distributed as part of the Public Housing Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency – Service Coordinators (ROSS-SC) program. In 2011, HACoLA received a $720,000 ROSS-SC award, which has been used successfully to hire three Resident Service Coordinators, who have built partnerships with faith-based, business, educational, and community entities. The grant has allowed HACoLA to build capacity, save money and improve the lives of its residents. The funds awarded this week will continue this work, allowing HACoLA staff to build capacity and better coordinate and expand social and human services to all public housing residents.
The announcement comes as HUD unveiled nearly $36 million in awards to more than one hundred groups nationally, enabling vulnerable communities to continue or grow ROSS-SC programs.
Although this award is a positive, Waters also raised concerns with the reality that federal funding for the Public Housing ROSS program has declined overall in recent years, from $50 million in fiscal year 2012 (FY12) to around $36 million in FY14.
Waters added, “Shrinking federal funding for this program means fewer public housing residents will have access to the types of services that ultimately help to increase their earnings and make progress toward economic independence and housing self-sufficiency. It is shortsighted to scale back funding for such an important resource that helps public housing residents achieve positive life outcomes.”
As Ranking Member of Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over housing issues, Waters has long advocated for full funding for HUD, specifically public housing, to ensure vulnerable populations across the nation have access to economic opportunity and housing that is safe, decent and affordable.