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The Corporation for National and Community Service announced Thursday it has awarded a $1.6 million grant to Salt Lake County to fight homelessness.

The funds from the federal government agency will support 20 Americorps and five Vista volunteers over two years. They will be assigned to help homeless people find housing, jobs and education opportunities. Beyond that, the volunteers will aid homeless people become independent in whatever ways they require, said CNCS spokeswoman Wendy Spencer.

Salt Lake County was one 10 applicants to receive CNCS grants of 70 localities that applied.

"This is a great day for Salt Lake County," Spencer said.

County Mayor Ben McAdams said the boost in personnel would be "noticeable and significant" because coordinating homeless services with individuals requires a lot of time and resources.

Although the grant can be applied to all categories of homelessness, McAdams said it would allow Salt Lake County to "cross the finish line" in eradicating chronic homelessness.

Chronic homelessness is defined at being homeless for more than one year or being homeless repeatedly over a three-year period.

Salt Lake County still counts some 14,000 people as homeless.

Christopher Smart