Clackamas County Health, Housing & Human Services has received almost $2 million in grant funds to develop and support programs addressing youth homelessness, including rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing and host homes.
The $1,776,632 grant is through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.
As one of only 23 recipients, Clackamas County plans to use this funding to support housing options for people under the age of 25 who are experiencing homelessness and to connect young people with other services and systems of care.
“The housing crisis is a growing concern for Clackamas County,” said Commissioner Martha Schrader. “There are youth experiencing homelessness today, and many more who may become homeless as rents increase. We are thrilled to have this opportunity from HUD to put systems in place that will reverse this trend.”
“This was a highly competitive application process, and a number of dedicated staff worked to make this happen,” said Jill Smith, Director of Housing and Housing Services. “We are just thrilled to be selected to receive these new funds that will help serve the youth in our county.”
Over the next several months, the county will develop a community plan and local guidelines for how the funds will be used. Youth-focused community partners will be involved in that planning process. After the initial plans are developed, the county will invite organizations to apply for the grant funds.
“This application was a team effort between County staff, community partners, and the Youth Action Board.” said Abby Ahern, Clackamas County Homeless Management Information System and Continuum of Care Lead. “We look forward to working with homeless youth and our youth-focused partners to address the unique challenge of youth homelessness in a creative, thoughtful way.”
The initial $1.7M is awarded for a two-year period, and grants will be awarded in a competitive process annually thereafter.
Historically, it has been challenging to capture accurate data around youth experiencing homelessness for a variety of reasons, including reluctance to participate in government programs and data collection methods being targeted more toward adult populations.
“Unfortunately the methods we use to count people experiencing homelessness are not necessarily youth focused, so we can only estimate how many young people are lacking housing in the county,” said Vahid Brown, Housing Policy Coordinator.
Taking into account data from homeless school liaisons, the Coordinated Housing Access line and other agencies, he estimated there are around 600 youth that are in need of homeless services in Clackamas County.
And, there is some reason to believe the number is much higher. Magda Moreno, homeless liaison for the Canby School District, estimated that there are currently close to 300 students in need of stable housing in Canby alone.
According to the 2019 Point-In-Time Homeless Count, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Clackamas County is increasing, while the number of homeless youth is declining. While many factors affect the accuracy of the PIT Count, the county says it is a starting point for a larger conversation about the need for services and housing.
If you are experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness, call Clackamas County’s Coordinated Housing Access line at 503-655-8575.
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