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Ninth District Opportunity gets money to combat homelessness
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Ninth District Opportunity Inc. has received a $1.8 million grant to help prevent homelessness in Northeast Georgia.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the grant as part of the $14 million that went to the state of Georgia for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program.

This program serves people likely to achieve self-sufficiency with three months of assistance. The program is separate from an emergency shelter program or transitional housing program.

Brenda Dalin, program director for Ninth District Opportunity, said the funds came at a good time. "We’re absolutely delighted actually that we’ve gotten it. The grant’s designed to provide some long-term assistance for people during this time," Dalien said.

Dalin said she hopes to use the money to help upward of 450 families in the 13 counties Ninth District Opportunity serves.

"This is for people who have become recently unemployed. It is to keep them on their feet while they get re-employed and keep them from becoming homeless," Dalin said. "This program is designed to take people that need to move into more affordable housing, if they’re homeless to move into housing and if they’re struggling to pay their utilities or rent we can pay the initial three months rent."

The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program is different from a mortgage rescue program. Funds cannot be used for mortgage payments or associated legal costs.

Dalin said the demand for this type of assistance is great in Hall County.

"We already receive emergency food and shelter money and we’ve received the regular allocation for that and the stimulus part of that and we have already went through just about every penny of that trying to keep people in their homes," Dalin said. "We’ve had a huge increase of program participants this year due to loss of jobs."

Dalin said even those who have jobs still need their services.

"They’ve actually been cut back to the minimal amount of hours so they’re just not making enough money to make ends meet," Dalin said. "We’re serving a lot of the working poor right now. The ones that are just struggling to make it from month to month."