Kitsap County on Monday amended contracts with Kitsap Community Resources to reflect $1.5 million in funding the county received from the state to address homelessness.
The county received a $1.5 million Consolidated Homeless Grant, which is part of the state’s response to homelessness, said Kirsten Jewell, manager for the Kitsap County Department of Human Services and Homelessness Division, at Monday's meeting of the Board of Commissioners. The county is using the funds for two programs: a new hotel voucher program, and its Rapid-Rehousing Program.
The grant is reauthorized by the state legislature each biennium and is administered by the state Department of Commerce’s housing assistance unit, which is the primary contractor for homeless service funding to county governments, she added.
Eligible uses for the funds must be consistent with the State Homeless Housing Plan, and is subcontracted to providers of homeless housing and services, Jewell said. In addition, there are both monthly and annual reporting requirements for the use of the funds.
The $1.5 million awarded to the county is being designated as follows:
$500,000 for the new hotel voucher program
$1 million for additional funding for the Rapid-Rehousing program
$63,233 for program administration
“We decided to split the money up so that about a third of it would be piloted in a new hotel program, while the remainder of $1 million would be spent for expansion of the Rapid-Rehousing funding," Jewell said.
The Rapid-Rehousing program provides rental assistance for low-income households, but is primarily geared toward providing stable housing to homeless households by paying costs necessary to secure housing, such as first and last month's rent and damage deposits.
"For many apartments today that represents a $5,000 or $6,000 bulk amount of funding that’s needed upfront at the beginning of a lease, and most people don’t have that kind of money," Jewell said. "So this is a really important funding source for helping people make that transition from experiencing homelessness back into stable housing by providing those housing move-in costs."
The new hotel voucher program will probably be renamed the Hotel Stabilization Program to more accurately reflect the nature of the program, Jewell said. It will be targeted to people experiencing homelessness, particularly those in encampments or on the street, to get them into hotels, she said. Kitsap Community Resources will contract with the hotels, and the program will also include "a significant amount" of case management support.
"The hotel is intended to be a stepping stone or sort of a transitional safe housing option while case managers work with folks to [find] other, longer-term, permanent, stable housing where they can stay for the longer term," Jewell said.
The program is currently being rolled out, and Kitsap Community Resources is working to find hotels willing to participate in the program, she said. They have also hired case managers to work with the individuals helped by the program.
Kitsap Community Resources was the only bidder who responded to the county's request for proposals for the voucher program, so they won the contract by default, Jewell said. They were the winning bidder for the prior request for proposals for the Rapid Rehousing program, so the county is amending that contract to expand the existing program.
The Board of County Commissioners approved the contract with Kitsap Community Resources at its April 13 work-study session. The amendment to the contract to take the new funds into account passed unanimously.
“I know that we have significantly more people living outside than typically we do, and that really is one of the things that demands that we take some action,” said Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.