What is the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program?
The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program provides funding for five component services:
- Street Outreach to engage homeless individuals and families living on the street
- Emergency Shelter to improve the number and quality of emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families
- Homeless Prevention to prevent families/individuals from becoming homeless
- Rapid Re-Housing to move families from shelter to permanent housing
- HMIS Homeless Management Information System or comparable data base costs
ESG funds are not a guaranteed funding source, but rather a block grant awarded by formula to our County annually by Congress. On average, Nassau County receives $1.1 million dollars in ESG funding annually. The majority of the ESG money is sub-granted to not-for-profit organizations in Nassau County to carry out the various components. Currently the Nassau County Office of Community Development (OCD) subgrants to seven Nassau County non-profits that run shelters for homeless singles and families. We also currently fund a Street Outreach program run by the lead agency of our local Continuum of Care (CoC). The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) limits the amount of ESG monies that can be put toward Emergency Shelter and Street Outreach components. HUD has made clear that it is encouraging ESG to be dedicated increasingly to Rapid Re-Housing. In response to this, OCD for the first time sub-granted Rapid Re-Housing funds to a Nassau County non-profit in 2018.
How do you access services provided by ESG monies?
Most ESG monies are not accessible directly to the public. If you are homeless in Nassau County, you may be benefiting from ESG if you are in a shelter that is sub-granted ESG Program funds. These funds may assist with staffing, operational costs, food for people staying in the shelter, and other items. If you are in a shelter and your household comes up on the Coordinated Entry List maintained by the local Continuum of Care (CoC), you may be offered Rapid Re-Housing services funded by ESG. There are several Rapid Re-Housing programs operating in Nassau County. Most are funded by the CoC. HMIS is a computer system that is required by HUD to document all the work that we do with persons who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness. The one ESG component that assists the public directly is Homeless Prevention.
Who qualifies for Homeless Prevention?
In 2011 HUD changed the federal regulations for ESG, and since that time, ESG is required to work closely with the local CoC to make decisions as to how to use the grant monies. While OCD administers that grant and makes the final decisions, we take into careful consideration the identified goals and strategies to reduce and end homelessness in our County. Currently, OCD is only using Homeless Prevention monies to assist households that have received a 72-hour eviction notice. Homeless Prevention can assist with up to six months of arrears for households who qualify for the program. The program is means-tested—applicants must have a gross household income below 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) at the time of application. There are no exceptions to this regulation.
Other services provided by the Homeless Prevention Office:
Even if you are not eligible for ESG funds, OCD welcomes calls from individuals, case managers, community advocates and providers for questions about housing and referrals to services in Nassau County. There are special housing situations such as senior, disabled, assisted living, nursing home, and mental health, which each have their own application process. Our office is also able to connect households to other programs that assist with rental arrears. Homeless Prevention continues to develop relationships with agencies across the County, which helps expedite applications and ensures that residents are only referred to programs for which they are qualified.
Please note, the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS) offers assistance with rental arrears and must always be the first place you apply. ESG requires a denial from DSS as do the non-profits that distribute the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) monies, which also can assist with rental arrears. Also, please note, the Nassau County Emergency Shelter System can only be accessed by applying through the Nassau County Department of Social Services, located at 60 Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, Uniondale NY 11530.