Homelessness: Long road to independence might make for better services

Even if the leaders on the Mid-Willamette Valley Homelessness Initiative get backing from local elected leaders to form a new Continuum of Care (COC), the road ahead is a long one. 

The soonest local leaders could apply for the change is this October. If approved, the new COC administration could compete for federal funds in March 2020. Allocations would be announced in December 2020 and then the money would be released to the organization in spring 2021. 

“What we are trying to do now is get all the pieces in place so we can compete for the federal funding. We will still need local jurisdictions to contribute until then,” said Janet Carlson, a former Marion County Commissioner and now consultant to the effort.

Even if all the dominoes line up right, it might not mean more money to combat homelessness on the local front, but Carlson said the money is only part of the equation. 

“This is about doing services better,” she said. 

The idea is that with better regional strategic planning, guided by the public health officials at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, there will be less overlap of services and fewer loopholes for those struggling with homelessness to fall through. 

“It’s about getting everybody rowing in the same direction, getting the outcomes you desire from the investment,” Carlson said.