Clallam County commissioners agree on homelessness funds plan

About half set to go to Serenity House

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners agreed Monday to follow recommendations from the Homelessness Task Force on how to spend $1.25 million through 2021, a little over half of which is slated to go to Serenity House of Clallam County.

The rest of the funding was spread among the other requests that support those fleeing domestic violence/sexual assault, veterans programs and youth programs, Mary Hogan, chair of the task force said in a draft report.

“We tried to spread it out,” Hogan told commissioners Monday. “Everybody had great programs and they all revolved around shelter or [coordinated entry].”

The county Department of Health and Human Services will prepare contracts with each of the agencies for the amounts recommended by the committee, which will then go before the Board of County Commissioners for its consideration.

During this cycle, Serenity House — one of eight agencies requesting money — asked for more money than was available.

Serenity House asked for $115,284 for repairs, of which it is recommended to receive $59,800. The account had $212,500 available and there were more than $400,000 in requests.

Serenity House also asked for $1.8 million to support shelters and coordinated entry, but the committee recommended the nonprofit should receive $818,500. There was $1.25 million available in that account and more than $2.3 million in requests.

The committee’s top priorities for funding included coordinated entry, shelters and support services. There were 21 proposals from eight agencies.

During Monday’s meeting Doc Robinson, director of Serenity House, commended the Homelessness Task Force for trying to address homelessness when there isn’t enough money to do everything that needs to be done.

He described the task they are charged with as “biblical.”

Robinson said that there are too many requirements from the state that are unfunded and that it’s difficult to fund the staffing levels that are needed.

“This is not a problem of the committee,” Robinson said. “This issue has gone beyond the ability of a … fund to hit the requirements the state wants.

“The county needs to think about getting involved with its own money on a limited basis.”

Serenity House is set to receive $280,000 for coordinated entry, $52,500 to fund the Homeless Management Information System, $30,000 to fund the annual Point in Time Count, $351,000 for the night-by-night shelter and $105,000 for the family shelter.

The one program from Serenity House that didn’t receive any funding was a proposal for a van that would shuttle people to its shelter from Sequim.

Concerned Citizens will receive $95,000 for support services, Forks Abuse will receive $48,000 to house victims of domestic violence and Healthy Families will receive $96,000 for housing.

The North Olympic Regional Veteran’s Housing Network (NORVHN) will receive $100,000 to fund a case manager at Sarge’s Place, and Olympic Community Action Programs will receive $25,000 for the Sequim Warming Center.

The Answer For Youth will receive $67,500 for support services.

Forks Abuse, Healthy Families, NORVHN, Peninsula Housing Authority, Serenity House and The Answer For Youth will receive a combined $212,500 for capital needs.

Hogan said the changes introduced in this cycle, such as an interview process and the extended funding cycle, made clear that there are still ways to improve the process.

Hogan said it would make sense to return back to the yearly funding cycle just for funding capital projects, which in many cases are repairs or small projects.

“It makes a big impact on the people who are there, but they crop up at different times and to wait 2.5 years for this to start up again — every year makes more sense,” Hogan said.

Commissioner Mark Ozias, who last month stayed overnight at Serenity House’s night-by-night shelter, said his experience made it clear that there are possibly smaller projects that should be funded too.

He suggested dedicating a portion of the fund specifically for smaller projects.

“We are generally so focused on the larger-scale projects, but what jumped out is there are probably some opportunities to take some small dollar amounts to apply toward specific pieces of infrastructure within some of these facilities that will have an out-sized impact compared to the investment,” Ozias said.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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