Homelessness committee to fund larger projects

Source: Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE — Funds to fight homelessness in Chelan and Douglas counties will be set aside for larger building projects.

The Chelan-Douglas Homelessness Steering Committee voted last week to approve the funding allocation for different programs through 2021, according to city of Wenatchee documents. The $3 million biennial budget included setting aside $310,637 over the next two years for either an affordable housing or low-barrier project.

The funding allocation divvies up the $3 million available into different pots to provide grants for things such as landlord liaison programs and hotel voucher programs.

Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay and Douglas County Commissioner Marc Straub both requested last month that the steering committee set aside funds to build affordable housing. City of Wenatchee employees who manage the homelessness steering committee funding recommended focusing on a low-barrier shelter, Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz said.

A low-barrier shelter provides homeless people with a place to stay, but does not provide restrictions. Many shelters require people to be clean and sober, do not allow animals or have other restrictions.

The agreement the steering committee passed was a compromise between both parties, said Glen DeVries, Wenatchee Community Development director.

Overbay said one of the biggest challenges with homelessness in Chelan County is the lack of housing to place people. Also, over the last 10 years, the number of homeless people in Wenatchee hasn’t decreased.

But setting aside the funding does mean that there will be less grant funding available to organizations such as the YWCA, SAGE, Habitat for Humanity and others.

One of the other funding changes agreed upon by the committee was for short-term homelessness prevention, DeVries said.

Short-term prevention includes providing rental assistance and case management support, according to city of Wenatchee documents.

The committee wasn’t sure it would provide funding for short-term homelessness prevention, DeVries said. But in the end it managed to allocate $100,000.

The next step for the committee will be to send out applications to organizations to request funding, said DeVries. Applications for homelessness prevention services will be due by May 29. Capital project applications will be due June 26. Low-barrier shelter operation applications will also be due June 26.