Homeless program may lose $600K for not taking in drug addicts

HUD says program must accept drug addicts
Posted at 5:17 PM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 11:21:25-04

A Vista-based homeless program could lose more than half-a-million dollars in federal funding because it refuses to break its own rule.

Solutions for Change said it would no longer be able to operate a shelter that houses 14 families because the program refuses to accept people who are actively addicted to and using drugs.

“This is a big, big challenge. This is the biggest challenge we’ve ever been up against,” said Solutions for Change President Chris Megison.

Megison said the US Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking away $600,000 of Solutions for Change funding because the program won’t take in people who are still drug addicts.

“We cannot run the shelter now because they’ve now decided very quickly that we have to take active using heroin, meth-using, drug-using folks into the shelter right with the kids.”

Megison said he refuses to put a drug addict in a shelter bunk bed next to a family with children. 

The rule is a new one -- new this year  Uncle Sam -- that says he has to or Solutions for Change doesn’t get any money.

“Don’t make us do it when our families, that’s not what they want,” he pleaded.

Megison said the funding gap hurts twice as hard because Solutions for Change is about two years away from being self-sufficient. He said they have found a way to get 88% of their funding from private and local sources. 

The $600,000 represents 12% of their funding. 

Megison said they were two years away from covering that gap on their own.

“So we need $600,000 to fill the gap our next two years,” he said.

Solutions of Change clients enter the program by staying in the shelter. After 90 days in the shelter, a family then gets a small two-bedroom apartment.

The ultimate goal is to have those families also become self-sufficient within a year.

The program has helped 840 families get off the street and back into society in 16 years.