PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners are returning to in-person public meetings.
They also have contracted with a Maryland firm to conduct a homeless gaps and needs analysis that will help shape local policy.
Board Chairman Mark Ozias announced Tuesday that in-person attendance would be permitted at county meetings because it had moved into Phase 2 of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery for COVID-19.
Government meetings have been held virtually since last March, when the coronavirus pandemic began.
“There will still be restrictions,” Ozias said of in-person attendance.
“Of course, you’ll need to be masked and distanced. We will have a sign-up sheet at the door in case there is the need to do any contact tracing at some point down the road.”
Clerk of the Board Loni Gores confirmed after the meeting that in-person attendance was reinstated Tuesday.
“We’re happy about this step, and welcome the public once again to finally be able to attend our public meetings in person,” Ozias said.
“I know that that’s going to be a welcome relief for many of us.”
The three commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a $61,822 personal services agreement with Cloudburst Consulting Group, Inc. for the five-month study.
The Landover, Md.-based consultant will examine issues that contribute to homelessness in Clallam County, prepare a housing inventory and submit recommendations in a final report by the end of May, according to the scope of work.
Public presentations will be made in county Board of Health and Homelessness Task Force meetings in June.
“This is a great thing,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said before the unanimous vote Tuesday. “We’ve needed it.”
The gaps analysis will examine issues such as domestic violence, education, health care, housing availability, mental health, poverty, substance-use disorders, transportation, workforce training, jobs and wages and COVID-19.
It will examine sub-populations of people experiencing homelessness and racial demographics in each subcategory, according to the agreement.
Cloudburst will provide monthly status reports to Clallam County’s Health and Human Services department.
“They are a very robust group that has worked with HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and had a lot of very strong connections in the homeless community,” said Jenny Oppelt, Clallam County behavioral health program coordinator, in a commissioners’ work session Tuesday.
“That drew us to them.”
Oppelt said a group of stakeholders from the Homelessness Task Force would work with the consultant to develop research questions and to help the firm “better understand what the layout looks like now in our county.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].