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Columbia Missourian

Rainbow House's homeless youth program hopes for funding

By Mackenzie Bruce
February 6, 2013 | 9:34 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Sol House, a homeless youth program, has shut its doors after losing a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In mid-January, the loss of the grant forced the program to cease providing housing services. Seven of the eight youths who were using the housing transferred to permanent housing situations, while one male is in the Rainbow House's teen shelter.

The program will find out in March if it will receive a different grant from the department. If received, that funding would begin in June.

Sol House, which operates in the Rainbow House at 1611 Towne Drive, provides a confidential location for up to eight youths ages 16 to 21, who stay in three apartments for a maximum of 18 monthsSince it opened five years ago, it has served 82 youths who would have otherwise been homeless, said Jan Stock, executive director of Rainbow House.

When it was founded in 2007, Sol House received a $150,000 grant to be used over five years, Stock said. When the program reapplied for the grant in October, it asked for the amount to be raised to $200,000 but was denied altogether.

“You never really know the reason," Stock said. "You get a grant rating, which can be subjective, but a lot of it has to do with how much money they have to give out and which region it needs to go to."

Four out of five similar programs in Missouri were also denied the grant and are waiting to hear back in March, Stock said.

Federal grants provide only part of Sol House's funding. General donations and other funds finance some of the program.

Sol House is the only program in mid-Missouri that goes beyond providing shelter; it also helps secure permanent housing situations, provides educational opportunities, case mangement, and links to other programs and part-time employment, according to the Rainbow House website.

Stock said there has been no decrease in demand for the program; 241 applicants have been put on a waiting list. "So there’s no reason to believe there's a decrease in need (for Sol House's services),” Stock said.

"Hopefully, the transitional living is only suspended for a short time,” Stock said.

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