A new program focused on rehousing residents without permanent homes is underway in Moore.

The Moore City Council approved an agreement with Norman’s Food and Shelter Inc. on Tuesday to fund the Rapid Rehousing Program, which is being funded with money the city received through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The city approved the use of $20,000 of its CARES Act money to fund the program.

The program will identify Moore families that are facing or currently dealing with homelessness due to COVID-19 and will work to help those families attain affordable and stable housing.

April Heiple, Food and Shelter Inc. executive director, said the pandemic has significantly increased the number of families that are struggling with homelessness.

“Fortunately, the Biden administration has extended the eviction moratorium [through March], but the truth is there are many people that are finding themselves facing evictions, regardless of that,” Heiple said. “Inevitably, we will see more individuals and families find themselves homeless. So it’s really important for us to have a plan in place for how we’re going to respond to that.

“This partnership with the City of Moore is just an excellent public/private partnership to meet the needs of a community that’s kind of been underserved for a while because Food and Shelter doesn’t have offices there. We’ve worked with Moore residents the best we could, but this gives us an opportunity to reach people we may not normally be able to reach.”

Moore Public Schools will work to identify individuals and families who are facing homelessness, and will send those referrals to Food and Shelter.

Heiple said if the family doesn’t have an immediate solution for where to sleep, the organization will help provide them with temporary housing, such as a room at a hotel or motel that will be covered through the program.

The city and Food and Shelter will then work together to find permanent and affordable housing for the family. Once housing is secured, the city will help provide the family with move-in and rent assistance for up to three months.

Elizabeth Weitman, Moore community development director, said the city is hoping to help at least 10 families through the program.

“The CARES Act has allowed us to expand our help and assistance in a different direction,” Weitman said. “Rather than focusing on infrastructure work, we’re getting into housing needs. There is a need out there we haven’t addressed, so this is a great first step into that direction.”

Robert Romines, Moore Public Schools superintendent, said he’s excited about the program and the families it will benefit.

“We appreciate the additional funding from the federal government to assist the City of Moore leadership with their continued great efforts of helping our district’s families,” Romines said.

While the program is funded through the CARES Act, Weitman said the city is looking into ways to expand it down the road.

“We are looking at possibilities after the pandemic to expand into more of these housing initiatives,” Weitman said. “In the past, we haven’t done that because of staffing and funding issues, but we know there’s a need out there, so we’ll definitely be looking into expanding into that in the future.”

For more information on the program, call Food and Shelter at 360-4954. More information will be available soon at cityofmoore.com.

Jesse Crittenden

366-3540

Follow me @jcritt31

jcrittenden@normantranscript.com

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