Clallam County allocates over $1 million to homeless programs

Clallam County commissioners have approved more than $1 million in contracts to organizations devoted to fighting homelessness.

Commissioners on Feb. 26 agreed to sign nine contracts with four organizations in Clallam County to provide funding through June 30, 2021. The contracts total $1,034,000.

Serenity House of Clallam County will receive $818,500 over the next 30 months while The Answer for Youth will receive $67,500, Forks Abuse will receive $48,000 and North Olympic Regional Veteran’s Housing Network will receive $100,000.

Typically the funding cycle has been yearly, but during the latest round of funding officials decided to extend the cycle to 30 months. The recommendations were made by the Homelessness Task Force

Timothy Bruce, Department of Health and Human Services planner, said that new in these contracts is a requirement to file a semi-annual report.

These reports will have more detail than the reports filed with monthly billing in the past, he said.

“The semi-annual report requested is a narrative with more detail and often involved either the Homeless Management Information System limited data set or a more involved picture of who was served,” he said in an email.

“This more-involved narrative was previously done at the end of the contract but we are now asking for it more often to follow the data better since these contracts extend through June 30, 2021.”

During a work session on Feb. 25, while discussing different contracts, Commissioner Bill Peach expressed concern about how the county’s contracts safeguard against an organization running out of money and then coming back to the county to ask for more.

In April, at Serenity House’s board meeting, Serenity House announced that it would close its shelters if the county did not come up with more money. The night-by-night shelter closed in June, but after local churches worked with United Way of Clallam County and raised more than $40,000, the shelter reopened in October.

Among the five contracts approved is a $351,000 contract to provide staffing in support of the night-by-night shelter through June 30, 2021.

“What do we have in our contract that says to an organization that’s receiving these funds that these funds are specific to this purpose and if you decide to use your funds and you run out of money, our agreement is over,” Peach said in late February.

“You don’t get to come in and say ‘I ran out of money, give me some more or I’m going to shut down.’ ”

Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Alvarez told commissioners their options in that case are to either sue for breach of contract or just not provide funding in the future.

Alvarez said there may be a reason an organization spends its money too quickly, such as unforeseen circumstances.

Serenity House will receive about $818,000 less than what it requested for each of the projects that received funding. The nonprofit received only 50 percent of what it requested. It did not receive funding for its van that takes people to the night-by-night shelter.

Serenity House Director Doc Robinson said on Feb. 27 that he does not anticipate needing to ask the county for more funding, though if there are snow events — which triggers the shelter being open 24/7 — then Serenity House could run short on funds.

“Last year, shelters went unfunded and (Peach) then thinks we came back,” Robinson said in an email. “What Commissioner Bill Peach never focuses on is how cuts to programs for the already homeless deeply hurt our barely surviving neighbors.”

Robinson said that shelter falls under the county’s responsibility within the state Consolidated Homeless Grant.

“There might be a reason they spent it too fast,” he said. “If they violated their scope of work, that might be a reason not to give them money the next year.”

In the contracts is language that splits the funding for each project to be distributed in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Organizations cannot use funding from the previous year or dip into funding from the following year.

The contracts

The Answer for Youth will receive $50,000 to provide basic drop-in services to youth and young adults who experience homelessness or are at risk for homelessness. It will also receive $17,500 to provide on-site case-managed clean-and-sober housing for two homeless clients at a time. The program is to transition clients from homelessness into drug- and alcohol-free stable lifestyles.

Forks Abuse will receive $48,000 to provide advocacy support to assist people fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault or other crimes while seeking safe and stable housing. Forks Abuse will provide case management and service partner coordination on behalf of homeless clients.

The North Olympic Regional Veteran’s Housing Network will receive $100,000 to provide case management and advocacy for veterans within Sarge’s Place, a homeless veteran shelter in Forks, and the homeless veterans of Clallam County through outreach and referrals as well as through coordinated entry.

Serenity House will receive $280,000 to provide trained housing and case management staff to deliver coordinated entry services.

It will also receive $30,000 to support the annual Point in Time Count.

Serenity House will also receive $52,500 to provide staffing to enter all client data into the Homeless Management Information System.

One contract is for $351,000 to provide staffing in support of the night-by-night shelter.

The final contract is for $105,000 and will provide staffing in support of four units of emergency family shelter; short-term, live-in accommodation that allow parents and children to concentrate on obtaining sustainable, permanent housing.

Ingrid Carmen, social justice advocate for The Answer For Youth (TAFY) homeless assistance organization, left, and TAFY director Susan Hillgren prepare a meal for the organization’s clients on Feb. 27 in Port Angeles. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

Ingrid Carmen, social justice advocate for The Answer For Youth (TAFY) homeless assistance organization, left, and TAFY director Susan Hillgren prepare a meal for the organization’s clients on Feb. 27 in Port Angeles. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

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