D.C. conference hears Clallam report on ending rural homelessness

Clallam County received national recognition as one of five high-performing counties in preventing and ending homelessness.

The honor came at the National Alliance to End Homelessness annual conference in Washington, D.C., July 12-13.

Representing the county at the conference was Kathy Wahto, executive director of Serenity House of Clallam County, who gave two presentations.

Clallam was featured as an example of a rural county that embodies all five elements common to areas that are successfully reducing homelessness, Wahto said.

Serenity House is the "glue" agency, with supportive public sector champions, a highly collaborative network of agencies throughout the community, who truly believe homelessness can be ended, with innovative out-of-the-box ideas, she explained.

Joined by partners from Whatcom County, Wahto also reported on a two-county "rapid rehousing" pilot

project with a strong employment emphasis to enable people to maintain their housing independently.

The project is one of 23 nationwide, the only one in Washington and one of two rural area pilot projects nationwide.

The conference attracted 2,400 people who are "aggressively and progressively pursuing programs to end homelessness" in communities across the country, she said.

"From being a leading pilot program last year, we no longer look unique. Other people are doing what we've been doing and great ideas are emerging."

Wahto also will be a presenter at a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development national training conference in Denver in September, as the Obama administration continues the emphasis on ending homelessness begun by the Bush administration with the passage of the 2009 Homeless Emergency and Rapid Transition to Housing Act.

For more information, call Kathy Wahto at 452-7224.

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