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SSHRB President Forecasts A Bleak Outlook for Alameda’s Homeless and Low Income Families

By Erica Madison

SSHRB President Cindy Wasko told City Council during the annual public hearing on housing: “The need is greater this year than ever”.

According to SSHRB 10 percent of families in the Alameda school system are families in transition, without a regular long term residence.

The Social Services Human Relations Board (SSHRB) is responsible for distributing the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The funds come from the department of Housing and Urban Development and are given to the City of Alameda via SSHRB.

“Families in the school system are living in shelters, or with relatives. More and more families camp out,” said Wasko.

The food bank is SSHRB’s  best indicator of needs and services, and they have increased their services by 45 percent. This increase is evidence of the fact that more families and children in Alameda need special services.

This year SSHRB was given 1.36 million in CBDG funds from Housing and Urban Development.

“Our CDBG dollars are small in comparison to the need,” said SSHRB President Cindy Wasko.

One such example is Bananas Inc.

Bananas Inc. is a state funded childcare agency which receives CDBG funds. Bananas Inc. has been serving Alameda County and administering funds to families since 1985.

The funds are given to offset the cost of childcare. Parents receive a $250 stipend per month per child for up to 12 months.

However the stipend is not enough to cover the cost of childcare for an infant, which ranges from $130 to $200 a week in Alameda.

Wasko went on to tell City council the situation was only going to get worse this year. With the current changes occurring in the economy SSHRB is seeing that now more than ever, there is the need for education.

“We need to have discussions on what do we have and what  can we have. Our goal here is to help people who have survival issues. These are the people that need immediate food and housing,” said Wasko.

“We also need to look at how we can help people who are unemployed and need support to sustain income,” said Wasko.

These are the adults who are losing their jobs and need training as well as more childcare, support because often the childcare is no longer affordable after the Job has been lost.

SSHRB’s plan to increase their limited resources is to encourage agencies and foundations that work in and out of alameda to come up with more resources.

“We see that our efforts are breaking the cycle of poverty,” said SSHRB President Cindy Wasko.

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