Porter-Starke Services, a not-for-profit community mental health center serving Northwest Indiana, was recently awarded a $925,532 grant to expand access to permanent supportive housing in Starke County. The three-year Rural Set-Aside grant supports Porter-Starke’s efforts to help people with mental health challenges, who are also chronically homeless, to secure and maintain housing.

“We have a long history of caring for people with housing instability, and it can impact their health and overall quality of life,” said Matthew Burden, President/CEO of Porter-Starke Services. “We’re excited to have this opportunity to help connect the people we serve with a safe and stable home and other supportive resources.”

The grant, awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in collaboration with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, is one of just three awards throughout the State of Indiana. The funds will help to establish the first permanent supportive housing program in Starke County.

“The single largest barrier for many people we work with is a lack of available affordable housing in the area,” said Lisa Swayne, Team Lead at Porter-Starke Services. “We’re looking forward to partnering with others in the community to help meet the need.”

Specifically, Porter-Starke Services staff plans to work with local landlords who are willing to house eligible individuals by offering grant funds to help with minor repairs, including new carpeting, paint, refrigerators and professional cleaning. The grant also can help individuals with move-in furniture expenses. In addition to helping people in Starke County secure housing, Porter-Starke’s case managers and other specialists will also help people secure other resources, including healthcare, social services, and treatment services.

The award was presented to Porter-Starke Services by Diane M. Shelley, HUD Midwest Regional Administrator, and Kimberly Wize, Indiana Field Office Director for HUD, in a press event held in Valparaiso on February 22, 2023. The award was part of a first-of-its-kind national funding package to address unsheltered and rural homelessness. $315 million was awarded throughout the nation; $3,072,403 throughout Indiana.

“I want to commend Porter-Starke Services. Out of so many other communities, they were the ones we chose because of their drive and passion,” said Shelley.