My recent posting on the latest homeless count in the District noted a couple of Mayor Gray’s budget proposals that could spell a further increase in family homelessness. A $2.3 million cut for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program was among them.
But administration officials have just informed local advocates that ERAP would get $7.4 million under the mayor’s budget — about the same as its original appropriation for the current fiscal year.
Deborah Carroll, the Interim Director of the Department of Human Services, confirmed this during her presentation at a budget briefing the DC Fiscal Policy Institute hosted yesterday.
The ERAP figure I cited was based in part on the Fiscal Year 2012 funding figure in the mayor’s budget presentation to the DC Council and in part on an unannounced reduction made last December as part of the latest gap-closing plan.
So either the mayor’s presentation was in error or someone in the administration has had a change of heart. Hard for an interested outsider to know because there’s no separate line item for ERAP in the budget.
For the same reason, we’ve got to take the full-funding assurance on faith. The budget structure would allow DHS to shift ERAP funds at its discretion — or just deep-six them to close some future budget gap.
But the assurance is still good news because short-term help with the rent can keep some people from becoming homeless.
And DHS certainly can’t cope with more homeless people, given the large funding loss its homeless services program faces. Probably not even with all the homeless individuals and families it’s serving now.