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Forum highlights effort toward ending region’s homelessness
by MARTHA IRELAND
Forum moderator/coordinator of the Shelter Providers Network of Clallam County
“Homelessness has no boundaries or jurisdictions,” Kirsten Jewell told 65 people who gathered to address Ending Homelessness Regionally, at a Nov. 20 forum hosted by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Chief Operating Officer Annette Nesse welcomed the forum attendees, saying tribal communities have “many of the same issues — too little resources to meet ever increasing need.”
Collective effort is the key to addressing those needs and maximizing available resources, participants agreed.
Rural-suburban areas “don’t attract the same level of support as urban,” said Kathy Wahto, executive director of Serenity House of Clallam County. “Regional planning allows us to go a step beyond.”
Wahto and Jewell both serve on the Governor’s Advisory Council for Ending Homelessness.
Jewell, who is the housing grant programs manager for Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, hoped the regional planning begun between Clallam and Jefferson counties in 2011 “can expand a little south to include Kitsap.”
The Kitsap council is an inter-governmental agency founded to work on transportation and land use issues, that later recognized the need to also address housing and homelessness planning regionally.
Kitsap’s Ten-Year Plan to end homelessness “took a step further to look at who’s not getting services,” Jewell said. That led to working much closer with the Department of Corrections on early release programs, which reduce incarceration costs, and to look at ways to reduce recidivism and its costs.
Better data is coming. In 2014, the state will perform an affordable housing needs study that will gather current equivalent data, looking at what is available now and what needs to be produced looking to future.
Pam Tietz, outgoing executive director of the Peninsula Housing Authority, said the attendees, who represented 28 entities, are “a good representation of what we’re trying to accomplish.
“We have great power in regional partnerships,” she said. “Open your minds and hearts to think beyond what you might think regional is — it might be beyond contiguous counties. Finding common ground has really helped us.”