Senator Patty Murray announced on July 13th that the Snohomish County Department of Community and Homeless Services won a $2.3 million grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). HUD awarded a first round of grants under the program in 2017, awarding $5.4 million to Seattle/King County.
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The YHDP aims to bring together a coalition of stakeholders in grantee communities to address the problem of youth homelessness. Participating interests may include housing providers, child welfare organizations, school districts, and/or the juvenile justice system. The Snohomish County proposal is a partnership between the county Continuum of Care Program (CoC) and Cocoon House and aims to address the needs of unaccompanied youth who are under the age of 25. In addition to the $2.3 million for Snohomish County, $4.63 million was awarded to a coalition focused on rural Washington as a whole.
According to a survey of school enrollment of homeless children released in late April, Washington State had 40,934 homeless kids in the 2016-2017 school year.
This marks a 97% increase since 2008. Snohomish County school districts account for approximately 3,200 of those kids, but that data only includes those enrolled in school, not those who may have aged out or have opted out of the system all together. Though the specific reasons for the increase in homelessness are difficult to identify, lack of affordable housing options, unemployment or under-employment, available local services and the economic recession have likely all contributed according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In the press release announcing the grant awards, Senator Murray reaffirmed her commitment to working for solutions to the homelessness crisis in Washington.
“Every child – from Edmonds to Everett and all over Washington State – deserves a fair shot at success, starting with a home where they feel safe and secure. I’m proud to stand with Snohomish County leaders and other stakeholders across our state who are leading the way in modeling how communities can come together to provide homeless youth with the critical help they need to get back on track,” said Senator Murray. “This significant investment will help bring new resources to local programs and efforts that provide vital housing and additional support to homeless youth, giving them the necessary tools to thrive, and I will continue working to find federal solutions to help end the crisis of youth homelessness in our streets.”