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Advantage Housing seeks stronger presence

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

An organization dedicated to aiding the homeless is seeking a stronger presence in Wabash County.

Dale Bliss, executive director of Kokomo-area nonprofit Advantage Housing, spoke with the Wabash County Commissioners Monday morning about the program’s presence in the county.

Currently, Advantage Housing offers rental assistance here through its rapid rehousing program. Assistance is available to individuals or families deemed homeless and in need of permanent housing, according to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, which distributes rapid rehousing grants to organizations in the state.

Bliss says there are currently four to five Wabash clients in the program, which offers assistance for up to one year. But most clients are living on their own within four months, he says.

Participants are required to meet with a case manager or housing counselor at least once per month to develop a housing plan.

An average of $4,000 is spent per client, money which helps with utility deposits, lease deposits and first month’s rent. Bliss says the program is only for those who are truly homeless. 

While Bliss says he has been the acting case manager for the area, he plans to have someone dedicated to the position in July.

Along with a case manager, Bliss says Advantage Housing would like to have an office in Wabash and introduce it’s Housing Option Short Term (HOST) program, which provides 30-day shelter to families in need.

“We don’t have a shelter here that I’m aware of and hotel expenses get very, very expensive,” Bliss explained. “What we’re seeking to do is acquire a building where we can renovate and turn into three or four (furnished) apartments.

“Our goal is not to just solve a quick problem and get them off the street; our goal is to put them in a situation where they can accomplish long-term goals.”

Bliss says he has been paying attention to East Market Street for scattered site developments that the federal government sets aside funds for. He ultimately hopes to develop a partnership with Manchester University down the road.

Bliss also asked the commissioners to consider the possibility of donating county-owned properties which could be rehabilitated by Advantage Housing. But Commissioner Scott Givens said properties that go to a commissioner sale often do not meet the requirements for housing and need to be demolished.