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Human Services

Posted on: April 2, 2020

Homeless Response Update from Human Services

homeless covid update

The Pierce County Human Services Homeless Programs team has been working closely with local, state, and national health officials to support some of our most vulnerable residents. As we continue our efforts, we want to keep the community informed of how we are working to support individuals in Pierce County who are experiencing homelessness.

Here are the latest updates in our homelessness response as of April 2, 2020:

  • The Pierce County Council approved $250K for homeless services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pierce County Human Services used these funds to create an emergency rental assistance program to prevent more people from experiencing homelessness.
    • The Rental Assistance program has launched and will be managed through partners at Share and Care House.
    • This program is intended to provide rental assistance to help households maintain existing housing due to circumstances related to COVID-19 (e.g. loss/reduction of employment, quarantine, etc.).
    • Households must be at or below 50% AMI and must live in Pierce County, outside the City of Tacoma. 
    • Interested participants should contact Share and Care House directly by calling 253-841-8886 (ext. 800) or sending an email.

  • To help families experiencing homelessness, we partnered with Helping Hand House to expand their Open Hearts Ministry program. 
    • $10K will go towards hotel and motel vouchers, for up to two weeks, for families experiencing homelessness.

  • The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded Pierce County $1.6M in emergency funds to address public health needs of people experiencing homelessness. We have diligently been working with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the City of Tacoma to develop this plan and have identified four priority areas:
    1. Enhance safety in existing shelters through additional hygiene/sanitation stations, providing staff with personal protective equipment, hotel stays, and other strategies that support expansion and maintain capacity
    2. Enhance safety among unsheltered individuals by conducting more homeless outreach including wellness checks, food drop-offs, giving out supplies and more.
    3. Support homeless prevention through emergency rental assistance programs to low-income populations impacted by COVID-19.
    4. Expand shelter capacity by setting up new sites to house unsheltered individuals and reduce demand on homeless shelters.

Pierce County Human Services is also taking the following steps to support the COVID-19 response for our homeless population:

  • Developing a quick and easy application process for providers to access emergency funding.
  • Facilitating daily check-ins with all shelter providers in the county to identify needs and share solutions.
  • Expediting our 2020-2021 HHP funding awards so providers have access to funds earlier in the year.
  • Engaging with our partners at the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and United Way of Pierce County to ensure their Pierce Connected Fund aligns with needs in the community and compliments available public resources.

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