HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - More than $14 million of new funding for homeless programs in our state is on the way, thanks to grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. About $750,000 of the money will go toward programs in Huntsville.
One local organization said it is their last year to apply for the federal funding.
Clete Wetli, Executive Director of First Stop says the organization has received helped from HUD for several years and the federal program does great work for homeless groups around the country, but HUD operates on a housing first motto.
"Housing is just a small component of what people need to not be homeless, it seems like the obvious solution," said Wetli. "But if they don't know how to comply with the lease, buy groceries, manage money... then what happens is when that money runs out they quickly end up back on the street."
Which is why Wetli says this is the last year FirstStop will receive the HUD funding. Instead, the organization will focus on empowering clients to become independent.
"We want to be less dependent on tax dollars and actually launch enterprises where we produce a product the community likes and use that money to create jobs for our homeless clients," said Wetli.
First Stop will do that by cultivating products in their greenhouse -- teaching clients job skills they need to really turn their lives around. But, they need your help to ensure success.
"We want people to come out to First Stop and see the great work we're doing in our garden, our earthworm farm and building furniture as well as begin to look for those products in the marketplace real soon. We're hoping the community will support us in our efforts to put homeless people to work," said Wetli.
For more information on First Stop and how you can support the organization's business efforts visit FirstStop.org. First Stop is located at 206 Stokes Street NW, Huntsville, AL 35805. The phone number is (256) 533-3391.