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Will County embark on homeless strategic plan

Megann Horstead – news@thetimesweekly.com | 10/23/2019, 9:28 p.m.
The Will County Board is looking to make a concerted effort to address the issue of homelessness in Will County. ...

The Will County Board is looking to make a concerted effort to address the issue of homelessness in Will County. At a recent meeting of the Will County Board, officials authorized a payment toward the development of a homeless strategic plan. The effort is a requirement of the federal government for units of government receiving funding from various entities to address homelessness. Will County launched a response team dubbed the Will County Continuum of Care to address the issue years ago. The networking that is completed as required by the federal government in order to tap into homeless resources enables Will County to receive about $4.5 million in assistance annually that goes to various agencies to keep people off the streets. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has turned to units of governments like Will County to encourage the development of a homeless strategic plan, which involves coordinating services and programming offered by local healthcare providers, police departments and health departments to identify gaps in support. “We are trying to raise the money that would be necessary,” said Ron Pullman, director of the community development division within Will County’s Land Use Department. “Generally speaking, these types of reports are anywhere between $50,000 and $75,000.”

There are a number of professional consultants across the nation that specialize in the preparation of homeless strategic plans. The effort strives to help officials and community leaders determine what steps to take to prevent people from becoming homeless. The issue of homelessness is not unique to the Will County. “We do have pockets of homelessness,” Pullman said. There are a number of reasons why people could become homeless, whether it’s getting fired, being laid off work or developing a serious health conditions. Pullman said it’s important for people to be educated on what homelessness looks like. He said that as a public body, Will County has a responsibility to assume, as do both cities and health departments. Will County officials have gone around seeking contributions from community organizations and social service agencies. “We’ve been very successful so far,” Pullman said. Pullman said it is not clear how much exactly it will cost Will County to develop a homeless strategic plan. He said a figure in the range of $50,000 to $75,000 is a ballpark estimate. Officials and community leaders will be hosting a public meeting of the Will County Continuum of Care next month. It will take place at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center’s Wallin Conference Center—Auditoriums B & C, located at 333 N. Madison St., in Joliet.