Corrected version: Counties served by HopeSource's award are Grant, Okanogan, Kittitas and Adams. A state Department of Commerce news release included an incorrect list.
NCW — Chelan and Douglas counties are among those benefiting from Office of Homeless Youth grants.
The office, which falls under the state Department of Commerce, awarded $11 million to boost services and resources in 30 counties, 23 of which are rural.
Many consider homelessness an urban problem, but people in rural communities also struggle with it, Commerce Director Lisa Brown said in a news release.
“As our future leaders, teachers, and innovators, young people are our most precious asset,” Brown said in the release. “This funding will strengthen communities throughout the state — from Asotin to Walla Walla, Grays Harbor to Okanogan and beyond — by providing an assurance of stable housing to help every young person in Washington seek their full potential.”
HopeSource, which has offices in Ellensburg and Cle Elum, received about $1.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.
The grant will serve Grant, Okanogan, Kittitas and Adams counties.
Mark Hollandsworth, director of operations for HopeSource’s housing department, said the organization will evaluate its coordinated entry system and direct funding to where the needs are.
“One of the struggles we’ve found is nobody out there is effectively tracking our homeless youth well enough,” he said. “... How many youth are we really looking at that are homeless? How many are couch surfing? How many are dealing with mental health or addiction levels?”
The money will go toward rapid rehousing, transitional housing and supportive services. Not every county offers all three resources.
Volunteers of America received $176,059 from a System of Care grant. The grant will serve 13 counties, including Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan.
State law requires unaccompanied youth leaving foster care, juvenile justice or other such facilities to be discharged into safe, stable housing.
Bridget Cannon, director of youth services for Volunteers of America Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, said the organization hired a staff member to work with a juvenile rehabilitation team to reach that goal.
“Maybe it’s not just getting them into housing,” Cannon said. “It might be finding other resources, whether there are different family members or friends supporting them when they exit so they don’t end up homeless. Sometimes they might exit back home and then end up homeless in three months. So, all kinds of interventions depending upon what the situation is with the young person.”
There’s no specific amount of money set aside for each county, she said. Rather, it depends on where the facilities are and where youth are being released.