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LI gets federal funds to fight homelessness

Catholic Charities in Freeport will be blessed with $895,026 in federal housing aid to prevent homelessness for veterans and their families.

Also, the Family Service League in Huntington will be given $252,049 to expand aid to single people and the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless will get $79,573 to run an online database that helps nonprofits keep track of homeless clients.

Long Island’s $1.2 million total is part of $216 million that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will distribute nationwide for almost 700 projects aimed at ending homelessness. Programs across New York state will get almost $15.1 million.

At the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, based in Garden City, executive director Greta Guarton said the funding helps maintain a system that helps lets nonprofits keep track of their clients and identify needs. Her group runs programs and works with 120 local agencies on funding and other initiatives.

“We are able to see the number of folks who are served, where they’re coming from, what their needs are,” Guarton said. “We are able to strategize to develop appropriate programs and for applying for grants.”

The round of funding delivers “continuum of care” grants, which cover outreach on the streets to job training and housing.

The Obama administration has ramped up the overall budget for emergency housing and homeless programs as the economic and foreclosure crisis showed few signs of retreating. With $1.4 billion dispensed just in January to fight homelessness, the president is asking for a 25 percent increase in funding for the coming year’s budget.

“Some might ask whether we can afford such a historic investment at a moment in which the president has been clear we need to make tough choices to reduce our nation’s deficit,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told reporters last week in a phone call.

Preventing homelessness is not about “big government” but “smart government,” he said.

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