Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reorganization of Homeless Programs Proposed

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reorganization of Homeless Programs Proposed

Article excerpt

Decentralization is the thrust of the House Republican Research Committee trying to revamp governmental assistance to the homeless, said Vincent Randazzo who prepared a report for the Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness.

"We need to get government out of the administrative aspect of housing assistance programs, job training and mental health," he said refering to a proposal to consolidate all federal homeless assistance programs into one program similar to the National Board approach set up under the Emergency Food and Shelter program.

"Government could set up the perimeters for transitional services and transitional housing, but these boards could decide where the money goes and for what purpose, he said.

Congressman Mickey Edwards, R-Oklahoma,is the chairman of the House Republican Research Committee. The proposal, very much in its infancy, would not be formulated before 1990 when the Homeless Bill expires.

However, as a federal response to the homeless crisis, it "would provide local recipient organizations with the flexibility to tailor federal assistance to the specific needs of their community without the cumbersome regulations of government," Randazzo said in his report.

At the top level, the National Board consists of six different charity organizations including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, United Way and Catholic Charities, USA.

Expansion of that board would extend authority to representatives of non-profit charities, homebuilders, public health agencies, educational institutions and the business community on the local level, he said.

"Local government is really no more efficient than federal government, therefore, the whole idea is to cut out government altogether," Randazzo said.

As a functioning body, the board could determine priorities, such as low-income housing and then work with local developers and investors to build cost-effective, low-income rental housing, he explained.

Or if the need lies more in the area of transitional services, such as job training, psychiatric counseling, alcohol rehabilitation, the board could marshall services in the community to target those areas.

Many different governmental agencies duplicate the work of one another in this regard, and streamlining bureaucratic action is the ideal.

But, one action of government, reauthorization of the McKinney Act in October allotted $645 million for fiscal year 1989 to 1990. Programs under the act are administered by a variety of federal departments and agencies, such as the emergency food and shelter program; the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and job training and veterans' reintegration.

A proposed amendment to the bill sought reduction of duplication and improvement in the flow of assistance to the homeless by "substituting the current funding approach under the act with a block grant program using the Community Development Block Grant formula. …

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