Over $2.9 Million Coming to Linn County to Help Homeless Crisis
In June 2023, $26.1 million dollars was authorized to be distributed across 26 rural counties that comprise the Oregon Balance of State Continuum of Care, a HUD designated group of housing and homeless service providers across the state, including Linn County.
The funding came from House Bill 5019, which the legislature approved in response to the need for additional funds to address homelessness throughout rural Oregon, most of which was not included in Governor Tina Kotek’s Executive Order 02-23.
The Executive Order, which took effect in January 2023, declared a homeless state of emergency and authorized emergency funding for Oregon counties that had experienced an increase in unsheltered homelessness of 50% or more between 2017 and 2022. The metric used to measure the increase was the federal Point in Time Count, a manual count of the unhoused that takes place annually in every county across the country.
Due to logistical challenges in getting an accurate count in rural regions compared to metropolitan areas, most rural counties in Oregon — including Linn County — were excluded from the emergency funds.
Determined to access resources to address local needs, Linn County sought and received a waiver to get the additional funding by proving it met the metric requirements. A multi-agency coordination (MAC) group across Linn County was quickly formed, composed of stakeholders including service providers, shelter operators, street outreach workers, first responders, and representatives from city and county government, with the goal of crafting a plan to address the local crisis and increase the amount of shelter beds available in the county.
While the project proposals the county submitted in the plan exceeded the available funding, the MAC group believed it was vital to demonstrate to the state the scope of services that would be needed to begin to make a significant impact on Linn County’s homelessness crisis. The original award was over $1.9 million, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), offered additional funding for being a waiver community, bringing the total award to $2,906,746.
The funding extends to June 30, 2025, and is designated for new shelter bed creation, street outreach, and rapid re-housing assistance to help those who are unsheltered get back into safe, permanent housing.
The outlined goals from the MAC group for Linn County are to create 106 new shelter beds and rapidly re-house 41 unsheltered individuals and families by the end of June 2025.
Community Services Consortium (CSC), the designated Community Action Agency serving Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties, was established as the grantee for this funding. However, several local partners of CSC will also receive funding, and OHCS selected Faith, Hope, and Charity Inc. to receive Shelter Addendum funding as part of the award. Additionally, the MAC group awarded funds to other organizations through a request for proposal (RFP) process. Those awards are as follows:
- Faith, Hope, and Charity Inc. $953,240
- To create and operate 30 new shelter beds and provide peer support services.
- City of Sweet Home $449,093
- To create 34 new shelter beds for families and provide outreach and case management services.
- C.H.A.N.C.E. $292,565
- To create and support 42 additional shelter beds at Second CHANCE Shelter, including staffing, supplies, and equipment.
- Crossroads Communities $136,500
- To support street outreach and rapid re-housing services to the unsheltered in East Linn County
- Creating Housing Coilition $129,500
- To support street outreach and rapid re-housing services to the unsheltered in Albany and West Linn County.
CSC will provide $407,140 through its rapid re-housing program, assisting with security deposits, rental subsidies and other support services as needed by those who are successfully re-housed by the partner agencies listed above. Additionally, $50,000 will be utilized for collecting and reporting project data and outcomes to track progress. The remainder of the funding will be used for administrative costs to enable all the outlined goals and services to take place.
“I’ve been involved with local housing and homeless services and organizations in Linn County for over 20 years,” said Dina Eldridge, CSC Housing Senior Operations Manager. “I’m very familiar with the ebb and flow of funding, new programs and services, and rarely does it make a dent in the magnitude of impact that’s needed in our region. I truly believe the leverage and opportunities provided by this funding and collaboration of the MAC group will bring long-term, sustainable change to our local homelessness crisis, creating a safer, healthier community for all.”
Click the links throughout the article to learn more and connect with the organizations providing these services.