PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners on Monday authorized Olympic Community Action Programs to administer the 2019 Community Development Block Grant for public services.
A hearing also was held for public testimony on the resolution of a certification of compliance for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and to designate county administrator Philip Morley as chief administrative official in connection with the county’s participation in the CDBG program.
John Minor of Port Townsend addressed the commissioners, saying “Any help low income can get is worth doing.”
The commissioners unanimously passed the resolution.
The state has earmarked $1.5 million in grant money to be used by 17 counties and community action agencies, such as Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), to fund new or expanded services for lower-income people.
The state requires a governmental agency to receive the funds.
The total 2019 grant funding available for Jefferson County is $110,431.
Morley noted that the amount is slightly more than last year.
“CDBG’s purpose is to provide base funding and when there is a need, we can backfill in with other programs,” said OlyCAP Executive Director Dale Wilson, who provided a report on 2018 CDBG services.
“We are moving forward in many ways. In particular, in housing and food security and actual meals provided. In this report, you’ll see the progress we’ve made.”
Wilson said that last year in Jefferson County, 3,541 people lived in poverty, which equals 12 percent of the population.
In 2018, 13,411 people received assistance and 59 percent were males. Of that 13,411, 21 percent were 0-17 years old, 34 percent were 18 to 54 years old, and 45 percent were older than 55.
The greatest increase in family size reporting was single persons at 83 percent, up from 60 percent in 2017. And 89 percent of those who were reported below the 50 percent poverty line jumped from 36 percent.
Wilson said there was an acute lack of affordable housing throughout Clallam and Jefferson counties and that families and the elderly are especially affected.
In OlyCAP’s Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment, inadequate housing was cited as the primary concern facing communities. OlyCAP provided rent assistance to 364 people and temporary shelter to 127 people.
Meals to the elderly increased 14 percent over 2017.
Wilson said OlyCAP expanded its food distribution to food banks by more than 15 percent last year, with 1.5 million pounds of food delivered. He said he has plans to expand that to 2 million pounds this year.
The commissioners also voted to award the bid for publishing legal notices to the Port Townsend Leader.
Both the weekly Leader and the Peninsula Daily News submitted bids.
After much consideration, commissioners voted 2-1, with David Sullivan voting no. The contract is expected to be adopted at the first commissioners’ meeting in April.
“Both papers are extremely important in our community and this is a difficult decision to make,” Commissioner Kate Dean said.
“For future years we will dialogue with you on what kind of information for online to be gathering,” said Morley. “It’s useful to get information about how many online subscriptions there are and information about how long legal ads or display ads remain posted online with a single placement. And thirdly, information about hits on the ads and accessibility.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].